‘My greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live’ (Kanye West)

July 3, 2015

And so dear listener, there’s a lot to pack in this week. But the arm is getting better (thanks for asking) and I’ve coped okay with just one arm…..and it’s amazing what you can do with just one arm. But there are times when something really needs pulled off and you think you can only achieve it with the use of both arms.

But I stuck the jar of pasta sauce under the hot water tap and then the cold water tap and the jar top came off dead easy. :)

In all honesty, it is getting better (new readers see previous blogs) and the physio has helped. Yes. I did get one pretty quickly but it was in Maryhill Health Centre, it was a cancellation and it was a supervised student. Called Jake. From Canada. In the first year of his Masters. In the two visits I’ve paid so far he seems to know what he’s doing. :)

But that happening just now kinda sums up the first six months of this year leading up to the celebration of my being born compared and contrasted with the last six months of last year which were brilliant.

(Those of who dislike the odd reflective blog should give up now and self-reflection is not self-pity – not when you take responsibility for most (if not all) of your actions.)

The zipwiring, the abseiling, the optimism of the PhD, the emergence of my grand-daughter, the Zombies (of whom more later) have all got kinda lost in a world which (apart from the new shower-room which was once a bathroom but now no longer has a bath) is summed up by the throat virus, the damaged arm and the wayward trip to Lisbon. Yeah there are some personal issues in there and I’ve spoken to some folk about them and in some areas I won’t give up whilst the Sun continues to rise in the ……..somewhere…….

I recently spoke to someone who was one of the very first to see me after I had ‘cold turkeyed’ and he said he hadn’t expected me to make it through the first night but I did……I don’t give up. And I saw some footage of damaged and burnt children from the Civil War in Yemen. My arm is damaged but I have the NHS to help.

My birthday? Was fine. Except on the day itself I had to take my car to garage (Arnold Clark’s in Bearsden) cos I had two slow punctures at the front bit. Despite what people say about the place they did not charge me for the repair job.

And the bowel cancer test kit arrived through the post. :(

So I’ve decided to cut back drastically on caffeine based drinks and crisps. And I have followed the rainforestriverman’s advice and treated myself to a pressie on birthday day day but I’m not yet saying what it is (no cars or animals are involved) and I’ve got a lot of thinking to do so I’m not going to bother with an ‘and finally’ today but take below the line to say why the Zombies might not be happening this year in the same shape as they did before but I am a trade unionist….never give up the fight.

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

Johnt850, the man who taught Magic Mike XXL everything.

So it was the good Dr W who, as with many things last year, encouraged me to be a zombie and it was the second last night of the run. I drove out to Strathclyde Park a wee bit unsure as to why I was going there at 4 on a wet Saturday afternoon and when I tried to get into the theme park car park I was told ‘No entry to car park, mate. The drive-in is on tonight.’

‘But I’m a zombie!’ (which is a f*cking stupid thing to say when you think about it) except he said,

‘Park over there, mate.’

And I was in. And I parked in the rag, tag and bobtail that is the back of the theme park. And I walked, still slightly uncertain, over to where we usually changed and made up and I met Charlie Bear (Seriously. That’s her real name, isn’t it Zoe?) and she said ‘Hi John. We’re changing in the haunt tonight cos we’re starting early cos it’s so busy.’ And I realised why I was doing it. I had become part of a family. In a strange way. I may have been the world’s oldest living zombie. Which is also a strange thing to say.

And I went in and changed. And Dr W turned up in a strait jacket. And we patrolled the Padded Cell and then I did the Autopsy Room and she did the Cages. And then she and I left at midnight but we realised the others were staying on. Remember the drive-in…….? They were giving folk fifteen minutes to settle in and then windows were going to be tapped.

Me? I was home washing what seemed to be dried blood out of my hair……..

Negotiations may yet continue.

I still think the trailer for World War Z is brilliant and thanks for kind words about last week’s music. :)

To accomplish great things we must not only act but dream; not only plan but also believe (Friends of Queen Margaret Drive)

June 26, 2015

And so dear listener last week’s blog about my damaged (left) arm and Charles Kennedy’s Memorial Service raised a few questions which I shall attempt to answer before going and doing fifty press ups with my right arm only. :)

First, thanks to Janice from somewhere in the West of Scotland who asked why I was able to tie brown shoe laces but not black ones? Well, Janice, the black-laced shoes were very fine shoe laces whereas the brown ones were a wee bit thicker. I do have formal black slip on shoes but they go back to an era when I used to dance the night away with Audrey Hepburn and that would only bring back memories. :(

And I was taken slightly to task by e (of whom more later) for my checking my Blackberry before the Procession round the quadrangle had even finished. But, hey, the fragrant Nicola left even before the Procession…….affairs of state maybe or missing her favourite soap?

And I am serious when I say that I am judging my recovery by being able to dry my hair properly. It involves stretching and moving my left hand – and the fingers thereof – to make sure the curly bits get fingered properly (Skippy?) and therefore get dried properly.

Maybe if I’d chosen a more manly example such as fly-fishing or, or, or or……..any other example gratefully received.

Anyway I’m seeing a physio soontime……it’s student day at the clinic so I’m getting a student. :) Basically I crashed my left side onto stone slabs and crushed my arm…..with whiplash effect to the neck. Aye. Think sitting sideways and crashing into a wall……

But I was not short of reading matter. My thanks go to Jenny H (and her pal Kim) for their semenal (sp?) work on the Challenges for Housing Policy in Scotland (and well done for making the Herald); and to Fenton of that Ilk for her work on the experiences of methadone users in a modified therapeutic community (a lot of interesting questions raised about recovery particularly where the Twelve Step Programme is involved). The boy McPhee looks promising as well.

But I am sooooooo out of condition. I don’t think I’ve recovered properly from the throat virus and some other stuff. Walking is the answer – and I was here eight or so years ago when I built up from ten minutes in the graveyard across the road to eleven miles (or so) in two hours around the canals and rivers in the area. My thanks to e and RJ and Holly the Labradoodle for getting me out to Garscube Science Park where Partick Thistle train, watched over by Kingsley the new mascot. It’s a smashing walk – minutes from my front door. Probably the same from my back door when I think about it. I have a reasonably sized semi.

You can walk through what remains of Garscube House (and you can also see the back garden of my ex’s house) which was owned by Sir Archibald who, when he died, had a wine cellar valued at £1,043 (in 1846!!!!!). I had a dozen bottles of Rioja and two cans of lager in the house when I ‘cold-turkeyed’.

Good walking tho’ and I am available (mums) for any such chores during the Summer Holidays…..once I can dry my hair properly.

And finally, the Queen is keen to protect ‘hard working families’ against all psychoactive (mind altering) substances other than alcohol, tobacco and coffee, suggesting that she believes it’s the substance that causes the problem. What most people who work or research in the substance use field will say is it’s ‘the drug, the (mind)set and the setting.’

So let’s look at the case of ‘boozed up nut’ Andrew Tosh from Dundee who was ‘banged up’ for nine months for (amongst other things) sexually assaulting a stewardess. The drug? Legally available alcohol. The setting? A boozy holiday lounge in an airport. The mindset? Total wanker.

Cya, still wearing that badge (and it’s a new one thanks to friend Rosie) and defo going for it (once my left arm’s fixed)

Johnt850, sleeping better now I know Kingsley’s looking after me.

So I was going to spend this bit discussing the Social Media launch of https://commonspace.scot/ and how good it was to see proper websites such as Bella Caledonia and Wings Over Scotland represented – sites which use journalistic skills and values to source their stories. I get just a touch annoyed when I see photos or extracts from websites retweeted or shared without any detail of where or when events happened.

I saw one photo recently shared on fbook which was captioned as children in Sri Lanka suffering from poverty and then it went on to say that this site’s aim was to relieve poverty in Africa. And I’m fed up seeing pics of the referendum count and claims of malpractice. Even the referendum supporting Wings Over Scotland managed to dispel that particular notion and having been a counter, journalist and political observer at counts, I know how tight the security is..

And then I read of Nobel Laureate Sir Tim Hunt pilloried for poor jokes about female scientists falling in love with you and crying when criticised. Y’see the person who tweeted that bit did not bother with the rest of the speech in which he apologised for his ‘off-the-cuff’ humour and gave an inspiring talk to encourage women to do science ‘despite monsters like me.’

Him losing his job was down to the power of Social Media – or more pertinently – its abuse. Please read carefully – whether it’s onscreen or hard copy in your hand. As a broadcast journalist I was always told to be aware of the power of words and pictures. Oh, and read the whole paper – not just the first three lines.

Some dreams will never die and sometimes the nice guy wins. This is a lovely vid….Walk The Moon with Shut Up and Dance. I’m not sure if I’ve lost the ad……

Martin Geisler (journalist – with glass of wine in hand) to Keith Chegwin; ‘Drink’s a dreadful thing.’ Chegiwn replied; ‘No. It’s not. It’s a wonderful thing. Sadly I can’t handle it.’

June 20, 2015

And so dear listener, let’s start at the beginning of a strange week.

I was supposed to be meeting a friend last Saturday in the Kelvingrove area of Glasgow. I had parked and she contacted me to say she was running late. Not a problem so I popped into the Art Galleries to pass 15 – 20 minutes.

And then I decided to pop out at the front – which is actually the bit overlooking the Kelvin and up towards the University – and I helped a wee Japanese boy through the revolving doors. I managed them myself, nodded to his parents and turned…and tripped over my denims (I think).  I have lost a quarter inch or so from my vast waist and they are slightly longer. Were I to wear Calvin Klein boxers then they would be beginning to show. But I don’t.

I’m prevaricating.

I went down. Hard. On the cobble stones. I was bleeding under the eye and my arm was bruised but then the worst thing of all happened. A young man (aaaaaaaaaaaaaaarghhhhhhhhh!) helped me back into the Galleries so I could be treated by a First Aider. Under the eye bleeding was caused by a shard of glass from my specs cutting into the cheek. The arm was just badly bruised…’just’.

I made the lunch appointment. Which was very pleasant. :)

(But rainforestriverman, whilst I may leave the house in a Renault Clio I cannot give any guarantee that that’s what I’ll arrive in)

(And just to correct a wee mistake last week; it was Brad Pitt who co-starred in World War Z with the good Dr W (Yes. Five words) and not Tom Cruise as I said)

So I got it treated at work and all seemed fine but I went to doctor and optician on Wednesday to get checked out and got signed off for a week. I’m putting the arm into cold water. Lots. But my eyesight has improved slightly. No PhD = less time at computer = eyesight improvement. :)

(And I recently met (in the ASDA) a former quantity surveying student I knew and she (but of course) is now running the Ledgowan Tenants’ Hall and they’re going to be starting a community café and I must drop in and we can have a good catch up…..I can’t remember her name)

(And I went into Carphone Warehouse in Byres Road cos I’d seen that the cable on the charger was frayed/fraid. So I asked the two assistants if they had a Blackberry Charger.  One said, ‘do you mean a charger for a Blackberry? Ah yes. You have the ZX 10 which has a micro USB portal.’

The other said, ‘Yes.’ He got my business)

So Thursday was the Charles Kennedy Memorial Service in the Bute Hall at Glasgow University. Somehow, em, I seemed (with a couple of others) em to have got on the Guest List. We were sat on the Non-Family side in Row 2 just behind the speakers and readers (Nicola Sturgeon, David Mundell, Lord Wallace, Willie Rennie, Brian McBride (uny friend of Charles’s) and the Presidents of GUU and the SRC) We were sat in front of Dame Shirley Williams (what a lovely lady to chat to), Jo Swinson, Ruth Davidson, Muriel Gray and Lord Strathclyde. Ian Gray and Johann Lamont were lost in the audience (wiil they ever find their way?). All interesting people to chat to, you as you do at a memorial service. Oh, and there was BBC Al, the Blog’s Bad taste pal…….and I was in the Second Row…….’access all areas’.

And I had a brill conversation with the Audio-Visual Technician who was recording the service and had a couple of stories to tell about Charles that would never make it into any eulogy. (I think why my life is a shambles is that everyone says that everyone has a story to tell. I am one of the few people to ask folk for their story.  Success in a material sense will always elude me) :D

Anyway back to me.

I had struggled to do up the very top button of my shirt and to tie my black funereal tie. I could not tie the very fine laces of my black shoes which go with my black suit. I wore brown instead. Nobody had noticed until……..

One of the traditions of graduating at Glasgow University is to follow the piper(s) – on this occasion Alastair Campbell and his bro Donald – as they pipe people out of the Bute and around the East Quadrangle (Porterhouse Blue, eat your heart out) and it was only then that my sartorial discrepancy was noticed. I was slagged rotten by my colleagues and even by some people in the procession. But, I protested, ‘I am my own man. I make my own decisions.’ – not realising I was checking for messages on my super charged Blackberry.

And finally, my fishing expedition came to nothing. I have never been knocked back for a reason like that. I blame Fifty Shades of Grey.

Cya, still wearing that badge (altho’ the first aider gave me new one) and defo going for it…somewhere.

Johnt850 who’s not in the most settled of moods this week.

And so the service was good, well-paced and isn’t Sir Kenneth Calman small?

But appropriately, on a night celebrating Charles Kennedy –a superb orator with a great deal of passion – a new star was born.

Breffni O’Connor is a young lady (Norther Irish it seems with a Norther Irish sense of passion for what she does) who is currently President of the Students’ Representative Council. She seems certain to be one of the next political stars to come from the political training ground that is Glasgow University. Remember the name.

Please excuse me. I have some shambling to do.

For Charlie Bear and Kerry Mac and all those who ran/have run in Tough Mudder, this is Katy Perry with Eye of the Tiger. What? Isn’t it? No, but it’s a much better video tho’.


‘It wasn’t the data they were interested in; it was the methodology’ (A South Georgian whaler from the twenties explaining why the Whaling Commission was so slow to respond to crisis in the whaling industry)

June 12, 2015

And so dear listener, the journey is almost over. The last two to three months have seen a lot of work done to t850 Towers and many of you have followed it faithfully. Indeed some of you will soon receive various notifications of variations of ‘if you’re ever in the area of Summerston, then my address is……’ and some may even get something more detailed…….but even if you’re not asked and you know you’re going to be in the area then get in touch. Seriously. I mean it. :D

I prevaricate.

The bulk of the soft furnishing shopping has now been done. As I write this, all that is on the list that is still to be bought is a small rug for the front room (okay the only room) to cover up some stains on the carpet (long story), a biscuit tin (the old Cadbury Roses tin I used was showing signs of fungus but, hey, it worked) and a new electric toothbrush.

Tuesday it was. e and RJ were due over at 0830 to pick me up. e is not a designer as such – she is more a former fellow tutor who I first met at Glasgow College of …no, Glasgow Metro…no, Glasgow City……the big building in North Hanover Street which won architectural awards in the sixties and which gave you a great view of Tom Cruise and Dr W (No. No word) being chased by Zombies a few years back….how times change. ;)

I digress.

I got up at 0730 and went to my brand spanking new toilet (Skippy, I’m not sure about the use of the word ‘spanking’. After all the bathroom suite is no longer fifty shades of avocado) and toileted. I also shaved, showered and brushed my teeth.

I went downstairs. I could hear running water. I went back upstairs. The toilet cistern was not filling up and the water was running straight through. Now to a certain extent this was fine as anything I did would be eventually washed away but it was not good for the World’s dwindling water supplies and my nerves. I contacted Kenny the Shed Pimp who lives just up the road.

Ten minutes later he was here. ‘Maybe something is blocking it, jt’ and he shoved his hand into the cistern and it emerged…clutching one of those toilet blue things you put into the cistern cos you fool yourself into thinking that it’s cleaning it. It had caused the blockage and we threw it and the other ones out but Kenny’s hand was shocking blue. :(

At this point e and RJ arrived. They had never met before (Kenny and e – not e and RJ) but they did not shake hands. Kenny made his excuses and left. Cursing.

So we drove to Braehead Shopping Centre – a town in its own right. And I broke my fast at Sainsbury’s. (Quick plug for Sainsbury’s. Like many places they do a non-meat breakfast but they also do a roll and non-meat sausage. Absolutely marvellous!!!!!!)

I had a croissant. We went to look at cushions and clocks but I was not to buy. Yet.

We went to IKEA (sp?) which I’m warming to. My first trip there a few years back with Study Buddie Fi was not good but it doesn’t seem as big now as it did then. I bought stuff. I looked at candles (I use candles a lot…and incense sticks…….they calm me) but e said, ‘you don’t need candles’ and a passing member of the public looked at me and said, ‘That’s you told’…… :(

I began to understand the world a little bit better.

We went to Marks and Spencer’s. I bought stuff. I’m beginning to forget what.

We went back to Sainsbury’s where I bought stuff – primarily cushions – and e went to buy some food and RJ and I stood beside some books…….sat on the floor beside some books. Within seconds she had taken a sticker out of a sticker book so I bought it for her. :D

(When we got back to her house – which she shares with her mum, dad and older brother – we discovered that some other stickers were missing. Well I hope the cretins who did that buy one of the jigsaws I gave recently to a charity shop from which I deliberately removed one piece)

We then went to the Self Scan where I started to buy the cushions and stuff. And the Self Scan Machine said, ‘there
is something unexpected in the Bagging Area.’ I couldn’t see the problem but the assistant noticed that RJ was climbing over the Bagging Area and cushions but was not registering. The assistant was very good and helped her off.

I carried on but there wasn’t enough space on the bagging area for all the cushions, etc so I lifted them off – without having paid for them. The assistant was very good and put them back on.

I paid and the assistant was very good. She called out; ‘Please come back again….. but preferably after two o’clock when my shift is over.’ Lol (as Carmen may well still say)

And finally, I went to Homebase on my own and bought a bright red bread bin. :)

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it (well at the very least giving it a damn good try)

Johnt850 and I don’t have OCD. I just wash all new things before I use them. Not TVs or other electrical goods obviously.

So I had planned to say something about death cos I seemed to upset some people last week. So all I will say is this……

When you have been as substance dependent (addicted) as I was then you become very aware of the possibility of death. Eventually, you’re drinking, jagging, snorting or smoking to black out cos that’s when you have most control – nothing bothers you and you don’t even think about waking up.

And that’s why I very rarely think of ‘One Day at a Time’ but I do often say that;

‘Waking up Every Day is an Under-valued Experience.’

I just won’t say it in Braehead…..not for a wee while. Yet.

This is for e and RJ. Thanks for your help and patience. This is a happy song by the Smiths as chosen by my Facebook friends. It’s called…….well Morrissey tells you at the start.

‘Breathe the air and remind yourself that your heart beats to keep you alive.

June 5, 2015

And so, dear listener, last Saturday night I had been invited to join a group of people for a night of karaoke in a bar in Renfield Street. My shift finished at 7.30 and the plan was to wander along to join them. They would have been there, apparently, from six o’clock onwards. It was a nice night and I went for a very long walk instead along the Broomielaw (as it was once known) before walking up the Saltmarket (as it is still known) and through the Merchant City (as it wants to be known) before catching my train back to Summerston. There I sat on each of my new settees for five minutes each as I watched TV for the first time in ages. I felt so relaxed. :)

Later on that night they moved to a pub called The Maltman which was described to me later as ‘a meatmarket. John you’d have loved it.’  I have no idea what they meant.

A day and a bit later I got a msg at six o’clock in the morning to say that Charles Kennedy had died.

I had known Charles many years ago through involvement in Glasgow University and various linked interests there. He was good fun and very easy to get on with and there was a very sharp brain there which cut to the chase almost naturally.

This was shown a few years later when he co-presented a show on BBC Radio Scotland of which I was one of the producers….he and Colin Bell were a dream partnership. Many presenters get briefings, some get a list of suggested questions and I’ve even seen some given expected answers. All Charles and Colin needed was the subject; which guest was for; which guest was against; and which guest had studied it and they were off.

And the show finished at two and, in those days, the BBC Club was open until half past two and there was a headlong dash to get there by three people just out of studio but Danny the manager would close the doors bang on time and open again at five…except for those of us who had been locked in all afternoon. Happy daze.

Our paths continued to cross until about maybe eight years ago when I stopped attending certain events and decided to go for a walk instead. Serious broadcasting’s loss was politics’ gain.

And then, the day after, I met Gerry who, like me, had successfully come through the cancer experience. He had recently done a presentation at the Golf Day of Keyline the Building Supplies company who, over the course of the last ten years, have raised over a million pounds for Prostate Cancer. He used a Keyline golf ball to explain a point in a graphic and brought the house down. Would it have worked with last week’s young female student nurses? Not sure but I was happy with what I did. :D

And it was Gerry who told me that Alastair Campbell had died. I had met people like Gerry and Alastair through my attendance at Maggie’s Cancer Centre’s Prostate Cancer Self Help Group altho’ I knew I was of a slightly different generation from many of them when I mentioned the Foo Fighters and got blank glances.

After I left the group I met Alastair about once a year in a bar in Hyndland for a drink or two but on a leafy Summer’s night. In fact it would be round about now that I’d be trying to set that up. But not now and a guilt sets in…and a lot of thinking gets done. Neither Charles nor Alastair were good friends in the sense of keeping in touch on a regular basis but I could meet them at any time and just pick up the conversation………it’s why I’m such a pain in trying to keep in touch with people – and may just have overdone it recently………but both were good to me in a lot of different ways.

My thoughts are genuinely with both families – one thrust into the media spotlight when much of their recent life had been private; the other I’d never met.

And finally, on a lighter note, the ‘soft furnishings’ shopping is planned for this Tuesday. Brahead watch out! Rhona’s coming to get you! For a two year old she has immaculate taste. :)

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it – once the soft furnishings are out the way.

Johnt850 – who will tell you next week what I was thinking about. Maybe.

And so if you believe that alcoholism is a life-long disease then you will believe that the only way to deal with it is a twelve step programme such as that espoused by Alcoholic Anonymous. The second step, for example, reads;

(We) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

All other forms of help (Cognitive Behaviour Treatment, Motivational Interviewing, Brief Interventions and personal decisions to stop or cut back – the most common) see alcoholism/alcohol dependency as a behavioural thing and have done so since research in the sixties started to show that many people, classed as alcoholics, did actually return to controlled drinking.

Why do I go on so much about this? I saw Newsnight the other night and a woman seemed to be arguing that the problem lies with alcoholism and alcoholics not coping. No. It lies with alcohol and our attitudes towards it. Cancer is a disease and I got good and proper help from professionals. Addiction is a behavioural choice and I got good and proper help from professionals. The Twelve Step Programme works for some; but not all. AA is about sharing under a certain set of circumstances and they are ‘anonymous but not invisible’; I believe in sharing as much as possible and so do so many others.

Tonight’s closing piece of music is much more twee than I have ever chosen and it does not apply to me. Even in the early days of being a divorced dad, I was always there for my son to the extent that I turned down offers of jobs in London and stayed in Summerston and then, through my bad times, he was there for me. He has grown up. I never will. Anyway someone requested it and it stops me playing Communication Breakdown for another week,


It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul (W.E. Henley but suggested by Craig Williams)

May 29, 2015

And so dear listener, a friend of mine (Fenton of that ilk and I’m tempted to play THAT YouTube video) asked if I would do a wee prostate cancer presentation to some young female student young female nurses at her college in East Kilbride. There was something about the offer I couldn’t refuse. ;)

The first time had been cancelled cos of my recent throat virus but was re-arranged for this Tuesday just past. I thought it’s an important part of the young female student nurses’ education. So I drove out with instructions on how to get there printed out like I usually do. :)

First problem.

I was going through more roundabouts than were on the instructions. I stopped at a bus stop and spoke to a lovely silver-haired lady. She gave me instructions that would take me thru the town centre where, it turned out, she was going. I offered her a lift.

She said, ‘Just drop me at the roundabout.’ I said, ‘Is there a bus stop or lay-by there?’ She said, ‘Naw, but if you put on your hazards and let me jump out quickly, we’ll be fine.’ :D

We were. But the Range Rover was close.

I have now bought a new Sat Nav. I had one before but lost it. :(

Second problem.

I arrived at the roundabout for the Students’ Entrance (for this presentation with young female student nurses Skippy and I are being very careful with any possible innuendo) at the same time as the two fire engines. So I went round again. And parked. Illegally but far enuff in to let the Gas Board van past. Something seemed not right, I inkled. And it wasn’t. Some informal chatting with men and women in Hi-Vis jackets seemed to suggest that. I think it was their merry shout of ‘Get that f*cking car out of there!’ that confirmed it. So I went.

Later Fenton of that ilk called. Using a borrowed phone, wearing a borrowed jacket and having borrowed a fiver to get home. Premature evacuation it was not; it was a real gas leak.

So I tried again on Friday and I got there. Successfully and spoke to a smashing bunch of young female (as is their tutor) nursing students and they spoke during the presentation but the highpoint was when I was saying anything was possible after  recovery and I obvs highlighted things like my very small part in Outbreak Zombie last October

Yes, they’d been there; yes, they were frightened; and, yes, they would be going back with their scaredy cat mates :D  .

And then I went for lunch with one of my lecturers from a slightly more successful era at UWS (Paisley) and we went to a Chinese Café in Paisley Centre which is very like the Savoy Centre in Glasgow but is in Paisley unlike the Savoy centre which is in Glasgow but should perhaps be in Savoy. :)

Maybe, just maybe, I had believed PhD hype and made things a tad too hard for myself by looking for something when I already had the answer to it. This one I’m letting go but not anything else this year. SERIOUS STERN FACE ICON

But in the meantime, good luck to all those marking exams, essays and assignments; as well as to all those sitting them.

And can I also say congrats to e and c on their seventh wedding anniversary. I didn’t make the wedding – humanist and at Strathblane Country House Hotel where Son Brian and KT had their reception and I’m told it was A Beautiful Service – cos I had just finished eight weeks of daily radiotherapy and was knackered, but serious congrats and thanks for all the help with the house – and more shopping to come.

And finally, like many I was confused by the symbolism of the Scot Nat MPs wearing a white rose which looked to me like an English Tea Rose. Some thought it was based on Hugh MacDiarmid’s poem of that name (‘White Rose’ not ‘English Tea Rose’); Christopher Murray Grieve’s best poem, as far as I am concerned, was ‘A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle’.  Could they not have sneaked a bottle or two in and had a wee drink in the Chamber?

The wild Scots rose was also a symbol of the Jacobite movement when the Stuarts tried to reclaim their monarchical crown by moving on London, stopping at Derby and returning home to get slaughtered at Culloden. Gotta make sure your symbolism cannot be misinterpreted, haven’t you?

Or maybe they were all going to a wedding. :)

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it. I am running out of excuses.

Johnt850, in a house with no workmen………. :D

So I have signed the petition to save (as it were) the Arches. I was not a regular clubber there but have attended arts events which were a bit subsidised by the clubbing. It is difficult to argue when a 17 year old girl dies and it’s said to be ‘drug-related’ but Security is good there and drugs offenders are reported.

(I remember once being given a strange look by the Head of Security there once but that may have been down to who I was with)

In a week when a man dies, apparently after taking a legal high, and the Queen says she plans to stamp out, singled-handedly, legal highs in England, surely there is a greater than ever case for legalising and exerting some control over what goes in substances. The controls existing in Breaking Bad are not replicated in British street factories or on British streets.

Would you buy your alcohol from some unknown stranger in the street with a dodgy label on the bottle just cos it’s cheap? It’s time for a sensible approach and not seven year sentences.

This is David Guetta but don’t take it too literally. I’m very rarely late – for example.

If people don’t talk about it, then people can’t find a treatment that works (Ruby Wax)

May 22, 2015

And so dear listeners, it seemed like hours that I was pinned down – an experience almost as bad as cold turkey – and there was two of them. Wearing uniforms of some sort; using blades of some description; and only letting me up once they had done their deed. Fifty minutes I was in that freaking dentist’s chair and for one freaking filling. :(

He kept telling me that it was hard to get to; to keep breathing through my nose; that I should raise my hand if I felt pain. I hate having anything in my mouth like that for any length of time. I kept gagging. (‘At the moment, jt, we’re just the right side of innuendo. For you, keep it male, and you’ll be okay.’ ‘Thanks Skippy. I’d hate to fluff. My lines.’)

It really took it out of me. They let me sit for a while in the actual surgery room and then in the waiting area (I must have scared the shit outa the next set of patients) and then they let me go. How to walk when you’re unsteady came back to me (or at least you think you’re walking okay) and the light headedness slowly went away.

I drove but only as far as Summerston Railway Station. I had planned to go into town to flyer Caley and Strathclyde Unies about my editing work (www.thewordprocess.net ) but strength ran out after some of Caley and I decided to go home. After all the painter had said he’d be done by ten-ish hadn’t he?

He seemed to have but there were tins of paint still in the shower. I don’t mean they were having a shower – they were stored there – and some other stuff lying around so I couldn’t be sure. :(  He had.

But a lot of work has been done to the house and I won’t bore you by telling you all about it BUT the final piece of the jigsaw (altho’ it’s one of those jigsaws that has two sides) was when the two two-seater settees were delivered (on time – from Harveys, Abbotsinch…ask for Denise) and the music in the background was an album called  Trance Nation – just wall-to-wall trance – and one of the guys kinda looked at me and said, ‘party time, eh?’ and I said ‘I like it so I play it.’

It was at that time, dear listener, that I realised I’d had two decaffs, one real, two large energy drinks and my vitamins and a couple of poached eggs – I was as high as a fuc*ing kite and loving it (once upon a time, eh?). The sleeve notes (which you don’t get with downloads really) said that the tracks ‘are guaranteed to take you up a gear and into outer space.’

Contrary to urban myth and misguidedness you don’t always need substances to enjoy trance. For me, that day, one thing and one thing only was on my mind: my new bathroom was finished. I’ve never had a new bathroom before and for the first time ever, I danced. Sober and substance-free. In the bathroom. :D :D :D

And finally this week, I tried a wee bit of fishing. At one point I found my laptop switched on. It was under one of those sheets pros put down when painting, so I’d a quick glance (the meeting up idea is on current hold until after illness and house re-furb). I saw a lady of appropriate age and good looks but all that she said (apart from the standard stuff) was that she was looking for a man with a sense of humour and that she supported Barca.

So straightaway I was in with the old ‘I must have a sense of humour cos I support Partick Thistle – a team with the same colours’ line. ;)

‘Did I go to games?’ she asked and I said ‘Yes except when doing shifts with the homeless….Did she go to Barca games?’

And I’ve heard nothing since………what is it I do wrong? Any suggestions, I’ll be in the bathroom – dancing. :)

Cya, wearing that badge (if it’s the right one, it’s very useful to fend off chuggers) and defo going for it.

Johnt850, who used to be able to do running man and still can but maybe not in public.

Many years ago, at my first university, I played hockey to a reasonable standard. One of my colleagues was a guy called Martin Young who was brill but not brill enough to play for Scotland altho’ he was watched many times. Once he said to me that one of the hardest things he ever had to was to accept that he would never play for Scotland. I feel a wee bit like that with the PhD.

Over the last few days, as part of the refurbishment of t850Towers, I’ve been wading thru files and folders full of academic journal articles and e-mail correspondence, throwing a lot of stuff out. Somehow it went from being an ‘exciting project’ (would-be supervisor’s words) to ‘I don’t know what you’re trying to do in this PhD’ (Ibid). :(

At some point, I lost enthusiasm and seemed to give up (I know where but that stays with me) and that is so unusual for me in the last eight and a half years or so. Some of you know how hard, for example, I worked in the dying embers of a relationship three years ago – not to save the relationship but to make sure people were okay. I’m still not sure what happened there but today’s lesson is;

I ain’t giving up on anyone or anything until I know it’s dead. No. No reason.

I never really came to terms with this Eurovision Song Contest entry on any level but I’m told when this song was performed on Blue Peter some of the lyrics had to be altered. ;)  Maybe Skippy had a hand in that;


It has taken me a fuc*ing long time to realise who I am. Stopping boozing gave me clarity (Paul Weller)

May 15, 2015

And so dear listener, it was a week when an amazingly good friend talked of her new job not being a real job cos it’s zero hours contracts (but I’ll just continue to quietly keep in touch) and when my own ragged trousered philanthropists (Kenny, Alan and Craig) unearthed some of my reporter’ s notebooks from my time in the Newsroom at the BBC.

The connection? Towards the end of my BBC time I had no contract either. In fact I was not even in an established post. One week I was paid out of the taxi account; the next out of the newspapers account. The bean counters discovered this and I was out. :(

Then came the opposite extreme. I was teaching (?) Monday and Tuesday at college and BBC News-ing Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday morning and Sunday morning. I don’t know how I managed to keep going. Well, actually, I do but that was then; this is now.

I made money in other ways. I would earn £7.50 by answering the phones for a phone-in show and used to meet’n’greet people for Radio 5 live late at night….that paid well.

And I’m not sure how old those books are/were but there’s a helluva lot of names and phone numbers for people in Iraq (probably now dead and not sure why or how) and experts on that subject plus Andy Cameron’s (then) home phone number. No. No connection. That I can think of. But wow – some amazing memories. And the odd exclusive.

And I see that Jamie Oliver is being judged by his Channel 4 bosses – for suggesting a vegetarian cooking series. The bosses don’t think the market is out there. I would love to see a vegan episode of Master Chef. That’d be a real test, wouldn’t it? :)

I was just soooo impressed by the restaurant last year when me, family and friends were celebrating me being born, that prepared a special vegan menu for the good Dr W and presented it to her in a leather case :(  Her food was smashing. :)

And I recently met up with uni-Sharon who was also there that night. My recent meet with her was in a café in Paisley which was like the TARDIS – so much room through the back. We were joined by a professional footballer who played for the mighty Thistle for a while, but those of us in the North Stand were never taken by him…..so it was strange sitting across from him. Could have been awkward.

And good luck to all those sitting exams at whatever level; and to all those marking them.

And Iain Duncan Smith’s a twunt. It terrifies me that I know someone who has offered advice to the twunt about the delivery of Universal Credit but who has never come to terms with the Working Tax Credits I receive – altho’ I suspect that’s about to end. I’ll talk about IDS below the line. :(

But my favourite moment of the week this month was in ASDA when I heard a woman with small child callout, ‘Right, Lucozade, this way.’……I’ve heard of dogs called Shandy but a child called Lucozade……

And finally, I am often asked who reads the blog (I’m not but it’s a tired journalistic way of moving on) Actually in truth a lot of people I don’t know cos the stats show that people all over the world listen at least once and I do get lots of people contacting me saying how much they enjoy the blog; what do I think of theirs? (Given the subject matter at times, I also get some personal stuff which I try to answer)

It may just be that the fragrant Princess Nicola reads it. Last week the SNP Press Office contacted me to correct a small piece of mis-information but thanked me for telling them a wee bit more about one of their new MPS – and not new MP Mhairi Black who supports Partick Thistle and had chips and white bread for one of her first meals in the House which she ate, against the rules it seems, with the kitchen staff – so maybe, just maybe, Nicola reads it……

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it now the work to t850Towers is almost done

Johnt850, delighted at having a toilet that flushes but still feeling rundown after infection and feeling as if I don’t have a home and having tekkie problems with this blog but I’m running out of steam…..

Anyway, Iain Duncan Smith has this daft idea that people with ‘destructive lifestyles’ and on benefits should be given pre-paid benefit cards which would not be spent on alcohol or tobacco – often the sole solace for people living in poverty. Soon he will be suggesting that they should all go to an island off the West Coast of Scotland and get food drops.

(I first heard of the idea of dumping people off the West Coast when the Daily Mail was going through one of its moral panics and it wanted to dump all ravers and users of acid and ecstacy to be confined there in the late eighties)

IDS, as he likes to be trendily known, once came up with the idea that anyone caught drink driving should be ordered to go to Alcoholics Anonymous and a check would be kept on their attendance – showing an amazing lack of knowledge of that organisation. Not only is attendance totally voluntary but it’s all on first name terms so that no-one knows who you are and you’re all treated equally.

I suppose to be fair, it’s not as if there’s a clue in the two worded name of the organisation is there?

The next five years are going to be desperate for the disadvantaged; and tremendous for the sellers of Bollinger and Moet et Chandon as already seen going through the gates of Downing Street. :(

It’s at times like this you need The Prodigy


‘I take absolute responsibility……I am truly sorry I didn’t succeed’ (Milliband)

May 9, 2015

And so dear listener, it’s still got a few days to go, hasn’t it? Nothing really settled over the weekend but not much longer to go. A few decisions left and then we know where we stand and make more plans – the next stage. :(

In my case it’s get Jed the painter in. Then I buy the new unit, mirror and bathroom cabinet. The settees come a week on Thursday…oh, and the sink goes in on Monday. I have shower, towel rail and toilet. e, Head of Interior Design then gets involved. :)

I’ll talk about the election later.

I’d like to say thanks to my sister for lending me a bed in her flat. I was there for three nights and it was hell….really awful. I was using the wrong remote control for the telly and it was stuck on the BBC News Channel and even for a geek like me, it got boring. I found the right one for Thursday night. :)

It was weird. I didn’t sleep there on the Tuesday cos I was working. My sis has lights on timers and on Wednesday they were still on when I went to bed, exhausted by not sleeping during the day, relatively early. So Thursday night, when I went to bed having watched some of the coverage, the flat was in pitch black. I put on a light and left it on during the night.

You know what it’s like – the first night in a strange bedroom and you have to go to the toilet during the night and you forgot about the dog at the bottom of the bed……. :(

I’ll talk about the election later

But first, I’d like to draw your attention to this exhibition. If you’re in this area it’s worth going to;


It’s described as ‘Paintings and photographs documenting the artist’s recovery from a sudden and severe heart attack.’

I’d also like to say thanks to Kenny the Shed Pimp, Craig the Spark and Andy the Plumber for working so hard and so well and parking so beautifully. They were a good team and turned up on time and helped me make decisions……..”did I really order that?” Whatever. ;)

No. They’ve done a cracking job and I coped with the laddish banter.

And mega-thanks to all those who said positive things about my decision not to progress the PhD, altho’ I was accused by a prominent business-person of a certain amount of self-pity and I’m not sure why. I, for whatever reason, could not master the research methodology and theoretical frameworks involved. I have views why not but then
I also chose to drink and then not to drink. Self-pity is blaming alcohol for your problems and an inability to get out of them cos you’re told it’s incurable and you use that as an excuse for continuing to drink;

‘poor me, poor me, poor me another drink’, as they say down AA Way when they’re being ironic.

I’ll talk about the election later.

And my little car had another wee experience. I was over at e’s where there is a large and very quiet area for parking so I parked fairly obviously and got into e’s car with e AJ, RJ and Holly the dog. And we watched as a car now known to e came into the area and began a three point turn which ended when she slowly drove into my car. I will say no more than that as negotiations are in progress but her text to me on Friday started off by saying how she couldn’t believe how all those people down South had voted Tory. ‘Didn’t they know what that would lead to?’

So e and I and her family drove down to the Botanic Gardens and there is a nice walkway on the North side of the gardens which is improved by climbing over a fence and getting down to the river itself. Okay. I found getting over the fence tricky (if you have to do a leg over gag keep it tasteful) but it was really good fun….stopping AJ from falling into the river and ‘if your mum says it’s okay, RJ, for you to climb that tree, then obviously it’s okay with me. Just don’t fall when I’m watching you.’

But good fun and then we got back to my car and discovered it was more than scratches….. :(

I’ll keep you posted.

And finally, can football teams stop doing guards of honour to teams that have done better than them this season before they play them? Why not lie down on your backs and let them tickle your tummies?

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it, especially now I’ve got more time.

Johnt850, looking forward to my first shower in the new bathroom

Ah, yes, the election.

Can I say congrats to Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik, a woman who has been a member of more political parties than football clubs who I have supported and who has been elected at the expense of a damn good constituency MP called Gordon Banks; to John Nicholson, Brendan O’Hara and Neil Gray, who managed to successfully hide their BBC backgrounds (doncha wish conspiracy theorists were consistent? Not a single complaint about any count so far); and especially to a guy called Patrick Grady for whom I voted?

Yes. I voted for him and not the party. Glasgow North needed a change and I felt he offered the best possibility for that. :)

Y’see if I had my way, not only would Robert Tressel’s Ragged Trousered Philanthropists be required reading at primary level but also Tom Paine’s Rights of Man. I’m sure well-known Partick Thistle fan Mhairi Black MP would agree.

And this is the closest I can find to a song for Kenny, Craig and Andy, this week’s ragged trousered philanthropists at t850Towers :

Why is a mouse when it’s spinning its web? (Anon)

May 2, 2015

And so dear listener, I have decided/it has been decided not to progress the PhD notion. It is for the best. Academia is not ready for me. I am, after all, the man who pointed out the major flaw in the whole Pavlov’s Dogs fiasco is that no-one bothered to ask the dogs. How can that be taken as a serious piece of research when the most basic of questions is not asked?

And this Schroedinger’s cat nonsense. Shove a plate of IAM’s chicken curry for cats under its nose and see what happens.

There does seem to be a tendency to ask too many questions. One can only guess at the process Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tensing would have had to go through if they had had to get academic approval for their attempt on Mount Everest.

“So, tell us again, why you want to climb this Mount Everest thing.”

“Because it’s there and no-one’s done it before.”

“But why do you want to climb it?”

“Because it’s there and no-one’s done it before.”

“But why do you……?”

“Och, just forget it and we’ll buy the Queen a wee vase for her coronation.”

No, their reasons are good and valid and replicable so I accept them. But so are my ideas. Watch this space or your TV monitor. The last radio programme I produced was sold on the question, ‘Why don’t men talk about prostate cancer?’ (seven fuc*ing words) and BBC Radio Scotland got an hour’s worth of programming that was described by the Head of Radio Scotland as ‘potentially life-saving.’ And I got £1,600 for eight weeks work. :)

Anyway, Glasgow Caley Uny’s closer. There’s a guy there……….

Oh, and the Head Zombie’s a student at UWS (Paisley). We are close to walking again. Strathclyde Park (and the rest of the world) beware. :P

Moving on – slowly but accepting their decision.

I would like to put on record my thanks to the good Dr W and Jenny H for all their help and encouragement and to e for the original thought. I will soon be having a sale of plastic wallets as I throw out all the draft versions of the idea.

But the idea of making people more aware of what actually is involved in working with people with alcohol dependency was added to by stupid Victoria Derbyshire on all BBC channels. She had an item about alcohol treatment in Manchester and the Professor was talking about the relative cheapness of alcohol and its availability, to which she replied, ‘But of course alcoholics would want to get alcohol no matter how expensive or difficult it is to get, wouldn’t they?’

As the good Prof explained, there is no single mass of people who could be described as a single entity – alcoholic – and most professionals in the treatment area talk about different levels of dependency. Derbyshire might have seen me once as an alcoholic – nowadays I just don’t drink. The only people I know who describe themselves as alcoholics are members of Alcoholics Anonymous….. and those who describe people as alcoholics are ostriches whose thinking is pre-sixties. (It’s a kinda football reference)

And speaking of Dr W (several paragraphs previously)…there had recently been a slight communication breakdown which was of slight concern but it would appear that she has inherited (?) a phone from her son and had problems transferring addresses, etc. Now I think most teenage sons would spend time cleaning out the browser history and anything else that might link them to dodgy sites before handing over their phone to their mum. In the case of the W family and their food proclivities these would be McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC.

The rainforestriverman had similar tekkie problems. I pay a man to do it for me. I have no problems, but am poor. :)

Like the refurbishment of t850 Towers which goes critical this week. In fact I don’t want to think about it but I am back at work after an acute throat infection – which helps.

And finally…. well, this week, there is no ‘finally’…there is only the way ahead.

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

Johnt850, M.Sc, Post Grad (two of them), M.A.

So, badges. I’ve often been asked about this and the reference in the pay-off line. There are three

The first is the Referendum Yes badge in Partick Thistle colours. It will be a long time before that is needed again and if that’s why people are voting SNP this time around, it ain’t going to happen. We may have a re-run of the General Election to come as well as the Scottish Elections next year and Nicola can only go for it if she is sure she is going to win….

The second says Sex God and it was given to me by the good Dr W. No. No reason. :(

The third is a Prostate Cancer badge and I recently gave one to the blogmeister (to my friends at Prostate Cancer HQ, he will be making a donation) and he has been wearing it……and people have been asking him about it. He tells them my story and some other related stuff.

And I think that’s why I find academia hard. I am not a statistic or a reference; I cold turkeyed over eight years ago and I came through bad cancer. I am what you lecture about. Me and so many others.

‘I am a free man; not a number’. Now where’s that from?

So how do I feel about the lack of a PhD in my life. The Who speak for me on this occasion. Daltry with my hair and my body


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