‘I believe you claim that you’re comfortable in your own company’ ….’I can spend days on my own and not speak to anyone.’ (Stuart Cosgrove)

November 15, 2019

And so dear listener, I know what Stuart means. I am a bit of a recluse these days but I’m not too bothered by it. I try to get out but sometimes it’s just as easy to close the door behind me; make myself a Tassimo coffee; find my latest book; and put a CD on. 🙂

Given that, once upon a time, for a period of approximately fourteen months, it would be a bottle of whisky and, at the start of an evening, a glass, I think sober reclusivity is not a bad thing.   😀

And much of the last year or so has been taken up, understandably, with my late sister’s passing and I’ve spoken about some of the other challenges to which it has led but I have some documents to sign, a couple of meters to read, and the important Stage One may have been reached.

And when I talk about starting a new life yet again, that’s a pretty positive thing in the language of recovery………

I plan to time it to be based on some of the Christmas story……..leave it with me.

And it will involve lashings of honeycomb shortcake with ice cream from an Italian restaurant just along the road from the bus station at the back of the Royal Concert Hall where I ate last Sunday……always nice to catch up on events in the homeless project I used to work in over lunch……sorry that should have read ‘on events over lunch’……(good point Skippy) 😉

I stood for two minutes silence in the Botanic Gardens on the way to Hillhead Underground Station.

And finally, recently I’ve been attending some talks on Old Glasgow but my attendance has been intermittent but they have prompted some memories and Sunday there brought them back. I’d taken the subway in from Hillhead but decided to go back out from Cowcaddens.

(Cowcaddens is one of those underground stations I hate. It’s a thin platform down the middle and I am terrified that if I step out onto that platform then I might lose my balance or be pushed off, so I sit on the stairs until the train comes AND I know I am not alone in thinking this.)

I used to visit Glasgow with my sister and parents when I was very young and I do have vague memories of coming back from seeing relations in the Milton or Springburn and taking the bus to Cowcaddens and walking from there to the hotel we stayed in.

It was cold and grey and pretty worrying but I felt a real man, eh twelve year old, when walking those streets and then one of the most amazing moments in my young life; we bought Sunday newspapers on a Saturday night. 🙂

To someone who, even at an early age, had hopes to be some sort of writer or journalist or story teller, this was an amazing experience.

Glasgow is and was an amazing place. Paisley’s not too bad either. I’ve some legal papers to sign there.

Tioraidh, looking out a badge I might send someone at Christmas but keeping it simple

Iaint850, who may be from Peterhead but I still walk the same streets of Glasgow I walked forty-five years ago.

Otago Street, Gibson Street and Bower Street still have many memories – anyone else rent a flat from Harry the Greek in the seventies? Quaint, weren’t they?…….

And I found myself in a smashing antique shop in Otago Lane just next to the famous Voltaire and Rousseau book shop but, no, I bought nothing. How many original Banksys can one man have?

Although if I do get an extension to my kitchen I may add a space for model yachts

So my task with the SDF this week was to be quite simple; I would be part of a two man team going through to Edinburgh to organise the video conferencing of a forum for workers involved in needle exchanges.

Arrangements were changed at short notice so I ended up observing the conference on a videostream at home…….I learned a lot about video conferencing and needle exchanges and, indeed, using intravenously…….’jagging’ as some might know it.

Many needle exchanges are to be found at your local chemists, especially in parts of Glasgow. They are exactly what they sound like; a place where people, e.g. drug users can bring their old and dirty needles and other paraph, parapher, gear and exchange them for clean gear thus, hopefully, removing many of the dangers of using affected needles and so on.

Citric acid but not lemon juice………

This doesn’t involve any drugs themselves so it’s totally legal but it also brings, depending on the exchange, the user into the gambit of addiction workers and health professionals who might be able to help them with other health and lifestyle issues and help to save lives.

So that’s basically a good thing, isn’t it? It’s good harm reduction and should be welcomed, shouldn’t it?

Someone once showed me how to find a vein in my groin but I think that’s enough for one day. Next week, we’ll discuss how, not that long ago it was perfectly legal for a doctor to prescribe heroin  …….


I was about 16 when I first saw bands but they tended to be at village hall dances a few miles outside Peterhead and often they were just an excuse to get a couple of cans of beer but I did see an early version of the Bay City Rollers in Mintlaw.

I know one young ten year old who’s not long back from seeing Marillion.

This is they.


Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word. – Charles de Gaulle

November 8, 2019

And so, dear listener, I am writing this a few hours after my flu jab which, as yet, has had little or no effect on me. Let’s see how we get on. But first, some really amazing news.

The nurse giving me the jab also took my blood pressure. It’s been going down for some time, mostly as a result of the medication I’ve been taking and do you know what?


It was normal! I should have written it down but it was something like 128 over 64 and that is really good. 😀 😀

She said it was down to my lifestyle (she should have heard what that was like thirteen to fourteen years ago) but it’s now okay. Yes. Some meat has come back into my diet but I’m still careful in what I eat and do believe we need a balanced food agri-economy thing but my local supermarket is restricted in what it sells anyway. (Joanna Blythman can explain it)

And I walk. Often in the company of Holly the Dog (and her grown-up aka my good friend e) and so, this week, we ended up in Bodach’s (need to check the apostrophe) which is a converted toilet at the edge of Kelvingrove Park at the Kelvinbridge end as opposed to An Clachan which is a converted toilet at the Charing Cross end.

Oh, and it does sell coffee. And cakes. 🙂

It was really nice but, from inside where we were served by an American who described himself as a dog whisperer, the white walls outside looked as if they were snow covered but it all seemed really festive and the wee chocolate cakes were nice. I’m not a great fan of ‘snow-covered’ and despite my excitement about last week being possibly the last time I’d visit my late sister’s house I may have one more visit to make. Let’s hope the weather holds… 😦

But last week was also Guy Fawkes festivities week. Now I have been at GF celebrations at people’s houses where nervous dogs and nervous individuals stayed indoors and I see and hear tales of frightened dogs on social media and from my neighbours but I was looking after Holly the other night (there was a ten year old male somewhere in the house but he’s a big fan of Minecraft) and I was cuddling a very frightened and shaking dog who wouldn’t even leave the house for a pee.

At my time of life, there is little that I have left to change my mind about but I am not so sure now about the private sale of fireworks and this is before I consider the attacks on firefighters as they attempt to put out fires that are out of control.

And finally, I mentioned last week my ‘world scoop’ from a General Election count. I think it was 1997 and it was Greenock Town Hall. In those days there were many seats in Scotland where the Labour candidate was a shoo-in and there was no need for a full outside broadcast crew where one man and a mobile phone could do it all. Phone in the number of votes cast, the percentage, the final result (maybe a re-count) and get the lucky candidate on the end of the phone and head up the road knowing you were £200 richer. 😉

Except, on this occasion, after the votes had arrived and were being split under strict security controls, there was a power cut. And everything had to stop. An emergency generator kicked in and I phoned the mothership (not the parentship) in Glasgow. And five minutes later I saw a TV in the corner and there was Kirsty Wark telling the world about the power cut. 😦 or 🙂

My story! Me! And so it went on. I never left the Returning Officer’s side. I kept phoning it in and Kirsty kept saying it…..’More new just in from Greenock…….’ But he imposed a cut-off time. After which the count would be postponed. And Kirsty repeated that to the world. And then I realised that if the light didn’t come back on, then we’d be back the next day and there might be no repeat fee.

Eventually the lights did come back on and eventually we did get home but I still had to go in and do my normal shift after about two hours sleep and a large whisky.

This time round I’ll go to bed at eleven and get the results the next day.

Tioraidh, still wearing the poppy and still keeping it simple,

Iaint850 who now identifies as self-partnered…..

Now I was going to use this bit to have a rant at all those actors and actresses (deliberate use of the female plural) who seem to be unhappy at some of the things they have to say in their dayjob of pretending to be other people and forgetting that until 1968 the British theatre was subject to censorship by the Lord Chamberlain in a way that if it was imposed these days they would be the first to complain in their makey-uppy world.

But then maybe I’m wrong and His Dark Materials is reality TV so I won’t.

So I’ve still not worked out how to get the music video onto the screen and I suspect that means me going back to my old computer and work out what I did there so I make no apology for going back to one of your and mine favourite pieces of all time to see if I can get it to work knowing it has in the past. Wish me luck. Looking good. Fingers crossed. Apologies if there’s an advert at the start.

Instead of being ashamed of what you’ve been through, be proud of what you have overcome! (Morden Station Information Board)

November 3, 2019

And so dear listener, this will be another short show; or at least, I think it will be. A few times recently I’ve started writing this blog thinking that and then, without trying too hard, I’ve reached the magic 1,000 words, that at one time was my target, without trying too hard.

But for me, and therefore you, there is only one story in town.

I look at my notes, cos that’s what I do as the week progresses, and there are various things that suggest themselves.

For example, I was going to say something about General Elections and my world scoop one year from Greenock Town Hall (seriously); or how fed up I am with politics and politicians.

In addition, I went to one of the Old Glasgow talks I go to on a Monday afternoon and I could now tell you more about that part of Glasgow that good friend e and I visited the other day when we went to see the exhibition of war-related photos by David Pratt in Sogos in the Saltmarket here in Glasgow; or that my duties at SDF now include some archiving of media coverage which gives me a wee identity and having an identity has been a major part of my life in the last (almost) thirteen years or so. 🙂

But my brain finds it very difficult to cope with the change in the clock. I didn’t gain an extra hour’s sleep last week. I already wake far too early for a man who I describe as semi-retired (me). Now it’s far too early plus an hour. And my brain and my body go active very quickly.

Or that I recently lost a wastepaper bin and couldn’t understand why or where, and it turned up in the boot of my car, which is being used a lot as I remove the last of the stuff to be removed from my sister’s Glasgow flat, but I have no idea why.

I do feel I am a long way from the care home but sometimes I do wonder…….

No. This weekend saw Son Brian and I scattering my sister’s ashes. Can I stress that I’m not looking for sympathy when I tell you these things any more than I am when I tell you about the drink and the cancer and the depression…..(mind you in the early days there was possibly a certain sense of catharsis and also in writing the book which never got beyond publishers and agents). 😦

It’s about sharing in a simple manner and just saying that, from my point of view, these things happen and it’s not a bad thing to treat them as pretty straightforward.

Mind you my hand shook when I collected the ashes from Harvey’s, my family’s undertaker, but only when I signed for them.

And the urn? It is basically a cardboard box because we were given the option and asked for an environmentally friendly urn and that’s what we got. And altho’ I’m saying this is all pretty straightforward, I did find myself saying sorry to Sheila when I dropped her but still in her box.

So on Sunday morning we set out. One day I will reveal where her house was but currently I will just say it’s about an hour outside of Glasgow and has a small burn down the side which eventually reaches a larger daud of water from where it becomes part of an even larger piece of water and from there it reaches all parts of the world. It travels much as my sister did – and indeed as she’s now doing as that’s where half of the ashes were scattered.

Nothing much was said or thought. Other tasks had to be undertaken. Photographs were taken of the electricity and gas meters just in case we get that close to closing and we left one set of well hidden keys and I had, what might be, one last look around the house.

If it’s not, it’s cos something has happened and there’s nothing much we can do about that……

We headed back to Glasgow…….to Kelvindale where the River Kelvin runs through the valley and to beside a bridge from where…….well actually we might have been better doing the scattering from the bridge as the bit at the side where we went could have been closer to the river itself.

Still, it’ll rain and then all the ashes will end up in the river where they’ll eventually meet up with the other ashes…….actually, they probably won’t, will they? Maybe we should have done it in a different order?

The deed was done and we headed over to her flat where some more stuff was removed (bigger items) and taken to the Dawsholm Recycling facility (the dump) and there’s just some ornaments to be taken away and that’s both properties ready as we wait for the Sheriff Court to do what needs doing.

Oh, and I have some rugs to be disposed of if anyone wants them…….. 😉

And that’s the stage we’re at almost twelve months since my sister, Sheila, was admitted to the Beatson for cancer treatment….just waiting for a legal judgement and then, hopefully, some straightforward legal stuff with the new lawyer and her folk and I’ll need to check how I am for Christmas cards and stamps.

So my sister’s cremation was at the beginning of February and this was the piece of music to which we left the crematorium.


‘It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential to the eye.’ (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

October 26, 2019

And so, dear listener, in the same way that Sky News now have a Brexit-free news channel on 523 on my TV, this is, this week, a will settlement-free zone other than to say, I /we are happy with progress but (and how do you know when an opera has come to an end these days?) it ain’t over until it’s over.

Instead let’s talk Christmas. 😦

Sorry. It’s not my fault. There’s already been discussions about where the media communications department of the SDF (there’s two of us) is going to have its Christmas lunch.

I have already received a whatsapp message (from one of my grandchildren – or was it his dad) to a link for a pressie he fancies but that’s okay by me. It means that everything else can come from a run into Waterstone’s for books and similar – which I’ll enjoy. 😀

And for me the traditional sign of Christmas is when St Margaret’s Hospice in Clydebank contact me to see if I’d like to sponsor a light on the hospice tree for someone no longer with us. Well, this year, for obvious reasons, there’s one fewer to contribute to sponsoring a light in memory of my mum and dad, and one more person to be remembered. So, I’ll get that organised soon.

And there’s a rumour that that flat in Crow Road has Christmas lights on – altho’ someone else said it’s Hallowe’en lights. Hallowe’een lights? Since when? My dad would get a turnip, take ages to hollow it out and make some eyes. Shove a couple of small candles in it and place it in the kitchen at the back of house and switch the lights off. Altho’ that might have been to pretend we weren’t in. 😉

And if you don’t understand the reference, that flat is usually the first in the west end, anyway, to be well lit up.

But it could have been a difficult start to Christmas for me. I went into the ASDA to get  some money before a train journey into town but as I was about to leave, I heard an announcement;

‘A credit card has been handed into Customer Services. If there’s a Mr iaint850 in the store can he come to Customer Services?’

‘Denice. It’s me. It’s mine.’

‘Do you have any identification, iaint850?’

Which is a proper store security question and I had no problem in showing my driving licence. I’d left it in the machine and a young lady, whom I thanked profusely, but who didn’t want coffee as a thank you, had handed it in. Luckily, there was no-one else in the store that I knew who could see my embarrassment – well there was……..

So where were good friend e and I going that morning?

The Foreign News Editor of the Sunday Herald is a man called David Pratt and he is an amazing photographer and war correspondent. I’ve worked with him in the past and know how well travelled he is (in various war zones). You’ll see people like Orla Guerin and Lindsay Hilsum and Martin Patience in places like that or up hills and mountains in Afghanistan or in Kurdish areas watching their brave fight against Daesh and you’ll also see civilians whose lives are torn apart by conflicts over which they have no control.

David’s portraits and panoramic views of life and death are well worth going to see and are in a new gallery down Glasgow’s Saltmarket called Sogos in an area where there is now a tremendous range of galleries and opening times are on Twitter but if anyone fancies going on a Thursday when it’s open ‘til 6.30 let me know as I’d go back and it’s there until 8th November. 🙂

Tioriadh, still wearing that badge, and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, who actually enjoys being early cos I see more when I’m out than I do at home.

And I’ve been going recently, on Monday afternoons, to Strathclyde University for a series of talks on Old Glasgow. They’re well illustrated and the guy doing the talking knows his subject and I’m pleased to say that there is no-one trying to dominate by asking questions from the floor (as it were) and develop their own ways of thinking and pet theories. 😉

It reminds me. At one point, I was considering researching and writing a book looking at the Scottish fascination with alcohol and our ways of controlling that. It would be particularly apposite at the moment when, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, there is so much debate about recovery but primarily on the drugs side in a city where deals are done in public………

Alcohol has always been the main cause of problems in Scotland and the story of how drink has been served through its various hostelries and so on is fascinating. He’s touched on Granny Gibb’s Cottage of the late 1790s (in Thornwood) where drouthy drovers stayed (with their cattle) and slaked their thirst but I wonder if we might return to the subject of Glasgow’s hostelries.

This will be my thirteenth Christmas since Cold Turkey Weekend and I have a C’mas list on my old computer……….I’ll leave it for a few more weeks before I transfer it across.

And here’s a link to the Zac Brown with their winter forecast and I will do something about the link thing soon. Honest. Oh. Hang on……And Keywords – I can’t find where to add keywords.

“Home is people. Not a place. If you go back there after the people are gone, then all you can see is what is not there any more.” ― Robin Hobb, Fool’s Fate

October 19, 2019

And so, dear listener, another stage in the settlement process has been encountered and partially overcome. I have mentioned the collection of my sister’s ashes but now we have been doing things to my sister’s homes.

And that’s as far as I’ve got with this blog. Excuse me while I take a break and collect my thoughts. It’s not an emotional thing (much).

As some of you know there have been legal issues so let’s just ignore them and get on with the tales of house clearance – except, technically, they’re not clearances.

The flat in Maryhill, for example is small and the person buying that (hopefully) has said what he wants left. So I got in touch with a charity called https://emmausglasgow.org.uk/ who told me exactly what they could and couldn’t take and were true to their word. It’s a charity that helps the homeless which is still a group in society in whom I still have a (slightly more distant) interest.

I was told they’d be between 0930 and 1530 and they were there at 1030 and were very efficient.

The two beds were flame resistant and there was a dining room table and chairs. Bedding was bagged up as were pillows and towels. One bedside cabinet but not the other. I’d not boxed up crockery and cutlery and pots and pans and casserole dishes so they weren’t taken – if anyone has any interest in these things – and I’ve also been left with a large number of rugs…….

I’ll have a wee think about what to do with them.

The flat was bought before my sister retired from her job in London and I was given the task of finding it – although what really happened was that I was sent details of various properties in which she might be interested and I arranged to go and look at them. It was to be reasonably close to where I live (but not too close).

By this time our parents’ house had been sold and cleared (some going to storage and some going to McTears) and my sister had plans for a house in a part of the West of Scotland she loved but she needed a base.

For me this was the first task I had taken on since Cold Turkey weekend and I have this amazing memory of, for the first time in many years, eating a fish supper whilst sober. It was also a strange experience in that my sister put a bid in and got it without seeing it beforehand and then, when she saw it, I was worried as to what she’d think of it. She liked and that was her Glasgow ‘during the week home’.

She then bought a house about an hour out of Glasgow (no location given here for obvious reasons) and this is where I was on Saturday with Kenny the Shed Pimp and his van. This is slightly different as I’ve been told the purchasers (hopefully) want the furniture and stuff left but that’s as specific as they’ve been,

Clothes were removed some time ago and given to charity; all the empty boxes my sister had collected over the years were disposed of as rubbish; and various personal articles were removed.

From my point of view (and this may seem harsh) I didn’t think I’d have any difficulty in moving stuff but I am aware that, over the last few months when people came down to help me, I moved very slowly compared to the others with the bin bags.

And at this point I’d like to say a big thank you to Son Brian, Son Brian’s dad-in-law, Kenny the shed pimp, good friend e and Friend Rosie – all of whom helped in many and different ways……..or multiple ways as I think it would be described these days.

The new owners have been left the furniture and other stuff and they have the choice of what they want to keep. I have no idea what they already have and am happy doing it this way. The house looks uncluttered and it is also obvious that much space has been cleared for them and their possessions.

However, we (see above) know how much has gone to the various skips in the West of Scotland and to many charity shops as well. In addition, I have various plastic bags of various cleaning materials et al that my sister seems to have started and not finished before she moved onto another one. That’ll keep me out of mischief.

I’m satisfied with what we’ve done and I think my sister would approve of my choice of team and what we have achieved. Some of you know why it has taken so long. It would have been nice if it had all been done before the clocks change next week but such is life. And death.

And there’s a takeaway coffee shop on the front at Helensburgh where it costs £3.40 for two coffees and a roll and square.



“Karl Marx: “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” Carrie Fisher: “I did masses of opiates religiously.”

October 11, 2019

And so, dear listener, as some of you know, I went and collected my sister’s ashes the other day. I’m quite happy to name the firm of undertakers as Harvey’s have been the family undertakers since my parents moved down to Glasgow many years ago (my mother was from Springburn and my dad was from Peterhead) and they decided to retire to the city where they met. xx

I assume they’ll look after me when the time comes but that’s my son’s decision.

There’s no reason for doing it just now other than we’re a wee bit more hopeful about settlement than we were a few months ago but let’s not tempt fate. There’s a wee bit of tidying up in properties (like you do) in the hope that some things come to a conclusion quite soon and there’s associated paperwork being done.

But back to my sister……Sheila.

There’s a couple of places the ashes have to be scattered according to her instructions but, as I say, there’s no hurry.

Tbh, I’ve not actually looked in the bags in which they have come and also, tbh, I won’t do that until I/we need to. And I’d like the weather to be a bit better. Trust me. You need to take the wind into account when you do this plus both will involve scattering into water.

I’ll keep you posted.

(And, yes, I did put the bag on the back seat and secure her in with a seat belt and did ask if she was okay and then realised what I’d just done. Still with Harvey’s you can park round the back so no-one saw me and I don’t think anyone would have bothered anyway)

But it has been pretty awful weather hasn’t it?

It affected me last Sunday about half past seven in the morning when I was driving north on the Maryhill Road. I have this thing about being up and about before eight which is a throwback to my initial recovery when I had to build in a routine.

I was going to the garage to get petrol and papers and was just past the chapel on the left and the allotments were coming up on the other side. (I don’t mean they were actually moving, coming out in sympathy with XRebellion, but am using this to establish my position).

I became aware that a couple of cars, proceeding in a southerly direction, were driving through really deep water. ‘Fools’, I thought and then realised I was doing exactly the same but in a different direction. You can’t stop and you don’t think. You keep your foot on the accelerator and just keep it at the speed you were doing and begin to press a wee bit more as the car begins to feel that it’s struggling – and you emerge on the other side saying to yourself that you will never swear at people on the TV driving through deep water again. Maybe, like me, they were in it before they knew it.

And the other weather related incident took place at the top of Byres Road where you emerge from the Botanic Gardens and there’s a wee crowd of studently people waiting for the wee green man and there’s one young lady in front of me and she’s trying to get her anorak on and she hasn’t got her right arm in properly and she has no chance with her left arm and she reminds me so much of my son when he was about six and she really needs help but in this day and age…….. 😦

So, I said, in a loud voice, ‘Here. Let me help….’ and unentangled the left sleeve and held her jacket open for her to get her arm in and then pulled the jacket up and she was fine.

(I’m thoughtful and single and here all week, y’know, and next week and next week and the week after…..)

Tioraidh, still wearing the badges and still keeping it simple but maybe it’s time to be realistic

Iaint850, which is very appropriate this week as the Gaelic Mod is in Glasgow.

And I don’t think I’ve left myself enough words to do justice to what I want to write about so I will return to it later – but first a hint.

I researched, wrote and passed my Master’s in 2012/13 and it was about advocacy on behalf of people in alcohol addiction treatment and rehab but the advocacy was to be by professional workers and it was interesting to see that some of the workers had never considered that as part of their job.

As well as talking to a couple of women who went to AA meetings, I also spoke to some workers who themselves had come through substance issues but it had never occurred to me to talk solely to people in recovery. Many were members of a fellowship and had to adhere to the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, of which Number 11 is;

‘Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need to always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.’

But there is a wee change taking place and organisations like Faces and Voices of Recovery and Recovering Justice are making themselves heard. Yes, many of their members go to meetings (‘abstention recovery’) but they talk, not about those, but about their continued recovery and the need to have their lived experience listened to.

By whom?

By politicians who think they know best. After all, these politicians have ignored experts and academics up to now; so why should they listen to ‘ordinary people’ now.

Watch this space and I’ll suggest why………

I still haven’t cracked the video problem . However, it just takes a second to click on Kris Kristofferson singing Sunday Morning Coming Down but it’s song that defines me at a time in my life and reminds me that I saw him perform it about two and a half years ago. Nice memory….the night I saw him…….not the Sunday mornings. Or, indeed, every day of the week.


“Aprils have never meant much to me, autumns seem that season of beginning, spring.” ― Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

October 4, 2019

And so dear listener, can I clarify something I said last week which worried at least one listener? When I talked about hibernating, I’m not going to become a recluse with my only contact with the world being the odd word emerging by social media.

Altho’ I do have various tins of potatoes and beans and long life milk and those breads that last for several months and then  you put them in the oven, heat them up, cut them in half and spread butter and jam over them…..or I’ll maybe do that when I finish tonight’s show. 😀

No. It’s just that last couple of winters have not been that good. Two Januaries ago I had the heart problem that saw me in the Royal Infirmary and then the Golden Jubilee and particularly, when I was in the Royal, the snow fell and I looked out at it and welcomed my visitors who made it through the snow to see me. 🙂

A few weeks later and it was the Beast from the East but social care people still made it into work and it’s funny (and I never ever had, I think, anything as bad as that to overcome on my way into work) but I always made it, which is particularly important when you’re relieving someone on a shift looking after vulnerable people.

And then, just last year, I and some others, had the regular, almost daily, visiting of my sister in the Beatson until she passed away and every night I’d go to sleep with a final listen to the radio weather forecast and all the way through – even up to the cremation – the weather stayed cold but it didn’t snow. 🙂

I was reminded of all this earlier this week when I met up for a cup of coffee with the blogmeister in the late afternoon in Byres Road (he works flexi-time) and I then wandered back to my car (miles on the other side of where I used to park cos of Glasgow City Council) and did so in a lovely setting October sun and was so relaxed that I almost was stuck in the Botanic Gardens in that lovely setting sun. I didn’t realise the gates close at 7. 😦

And then the next morning, I had to scrape ice off the car windscreen and did so with a CD cover. Aye. There’s a limit to what you can do with a download isn’t there?

It’s a period of strange weather but it always is in October. And I must stop looking at long term forecasts from random weather forecasters in tabloid newspapers and maybe just keep it one day at a time.

And maybe I’m just a wee bit annoyed. As many people know, a few months ago, I decided to legally change solicitors for all sorts of reasons, and maybe I’d had a wee hope that, by now, I’d be living in a small fisherman’s cottage in the Algarve and a small fisherman from the Algarve would be living in a semi in Summerston.

But progress is now being made and I just have to be patient. And cold.

And finally, I saw a chameleon this week. Not very good at its job, is it?

Tioraidh (which is very appropriate as we’re about to host the Mod here in Glasgow where I’m sure there will be lots of badges but will anyone be keeping it simple and will I go to anything?)

Iaint850, and JOMO ain’t so bad at the moment.

And earlier this week, I was approached on Facebook by someone from the BBC, I kinda knew, to be his friend on Facebook (and fb users know what I mean by that). Fair enough. Altho’ I didn’t know him that well, I have something like eighteen BBC (past and present) on my Facebook so I said yes……..

Two days later I was a recipient of a largish Facebook message telling me all about his new book that was about to be published…….Fair play I thought and a mystery solved.

And I’d like to thank Ann I for her suggestion for music for tonight’s show and there is a wee story behind the song and if you click on the link you will get the story on the Youtube page……..and this is a wee problem which has emerged since I started to use the new computer. Things like WordPress have updated my blog page and my wee tricks have disappeared.

Previously I was able to let you straight into the video but for some reason I can’t and I’m not sure why. It’s not the biggest of big deals, is it, for you just to click the link but it’s a presentation thing. Any thoughts?

Tenille Townes with Jersey on the Wall (I’m just asking)……enjoy


Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers; not thunder

September 27, 2019

And so, dear listener, I came downstairs this morning and found a wine gum on the table downstairs. There was a time when it would have been an unfinished glass of whisky but not these days. 🙂

It ties in a wee bit with the comment I made last week when I never got round to telling a story that involved Rod Stewart. There’s not much to it when I look at it a week later.

I used to know a director of Celtic plc (the rainforestriverman) and I was the recipient of boardroom hospitality on two occasions (and I was going to say something about Rod and his ignoring me both times when I said, ’how’s it going?’ and little did he realise that he and I would have something in common several years later – prostate cancer. Boring, eh?)

Anyway, the first time I went (during the drinking years) I made full use of the hospitality, watched the game from the directors’ box, left in a taxi with a then well-known Glasgow lawyer and went on to somewhere (?) in Glasgow City Centre. The veil is drawn at this point. 😦

The second time was during the orange juice drinking years (not long after) and when the game finished I had one final coffee and got a lift back to the railway station and went home. I suspect I then wrote about it.

Yes. I much preferred the second time. It may have been quieter but at its most basic level, a clear head is a wondrous thing. 😀

Moving on but in a steady and controlled manner.

And a quick reference to the third person plural comments of last week which I made cos Sam Smith came out as non binary and asked to be described as ‘they’ and ‘them’. I noticed that one Sunday Mail columnist, sympathetic to all colours of the rainbow, explained this and then went on to say ‘basically Sam has stated he (sic) doesn’t feel male or female and flows somewhere in the middle,’

AND all I ask for is some consistency, grammatically. It’s hard enough to explain and encourage Chinese student accountants to use pronouns in the first place. That’s the big thing for me. 🙂

Since then I’ve also seen some of Kelly Maloney on Celebrity Masterchef. Kelly was once known as Frank and went through gender reassignment and ‘smiles much more’ than she did before. She seems to have been accepted by many from her former profession of heavyweight boxing promoter but I wonder what Lennox Lewis makes of the man responsible for his career being encouraged in souffle making by Vikky Pattison (sp) of Geordie Shore fame; ‘Go, girl, go girl, you’re smashing it!’

Kelly or Martha Reeves to win? Well, at least I know who they are!

And the other television I saw related to Brexit and a man who forgets (as does his American counterpart) that certain behaviour is expected from them in their respective positions.

Moving on a wee bit more swiftly than before.

A quick word, if I may, to Ann from Prostate Cancer HQ. What we should, maybe, do is select a subway station at random and take it from there.

And finally, I went to an exhibition by Nick Cave at the Tramway with good friend e. The main thing is a Spinner Forest of 1,800 hanging mobiles made from metallic spinning garden ornaments.

You take away a range of thoughts from something like that which is so open to personal interpretation.

I was reminded of my hometown of Peterhead and fishing boats hanging out nets to dry and get fixed; I saw some really good bee houses in the Hidden Garden; in fact I saw the Hidden Garden; and I was also reminded of 1988 just before the City of Culture (1990) when it played host to the only UK performances of Peter Brook’s Mahabharata.

The other memory was of 1974 (that long ago) when I’d a summer job working in a good old fashioned Glasgow Corporation Boys’ home called, I think Ardoch House (or was that Dr Finlay?) Anyway something like that and it was on the 59 bus route from the west end over to the south side.

I learned a lot but would stress that I would never condone shoplifting but, tbh, I did turn a blind eye to what was in their pocket when we left the newsagents on the way back up to the home after a visit to what was then the Transport Museum. 🙂

Aye. You take away a range of thoughts. That’s what makes it worth doing.

Tioraidh, still wearing those badges and still keeping it simple……

Iaint850 who’s planning to hibernate this winter. The last couple haven’t been that great.

And I’ve not been to Firhill this season. It’s nothing to do with the management situation or the possible takeover or the poor results. Basically I’ve got out of the habit and it’s proving difficult to get back into the swing of things. PLUS my sister’s house is not sold and it’s quite a journey there and back on a Saturday just to check it’s okay and in many ways it takes it out of you for all sorts of reasons. And the anxiety kicks in and……….

Then last week I came back up the road and started to paint the new fence between me and next door cos it needs doing before the bad weather (eh?) sets in……..Yes. I literally watched paint dry rather than go to the game.  😉

I’ll get there yet.

So I’ve not had much of a chance to listen to music this week but Faith Hill is on the digital turntable as I write this, so this is she.


But when you’re in zugzwang, one possible strategy is just not to make a move. But, in the end, the game has to end. (One view of where we are with Brexit negotiations)

September 19, 2019

And so, dear listener, last week’s show reflected a Government minister’s unwillingness (cowardice?) to voice his own views so he did it in a slimey and snidey way. This week is totally in my voice and all the feelings are mine but I am going to speak about a lot of other folk but mostly in a nice way……. 😀

Let’s start with Son Brian who has been a tremendous help in so many ways in recent months and who has recently set up my new PC altho’ I have not yet made a full transition from the old one (this one) to the new one as I’m trying to stay a wee bit away from computer screens after all the editing and writing I’ve been doing recently.

Anyway Happy Birthday Son Brian (and RJ as well)……. 😀

(and can I be a wee bit editorially geekish here and say there’s an amazing range of templates on Word 365…….I spent an afternoon going through them). 😀

So I’m going to talk about people like Rod Stewart, and I’ll finish with a wee story about him later, but I don’t share the view that it’s ‘good’ when a celeb tells their story about their cancer*. I just think it’s great when anyone tells that story. Sharing is brilliant and if you’re telling that story it’s cos you survived that experience. But well done Rod……..and d’you remember that time when….but later…… 😉

(And a personal hero on the Prostate Cancer front was a guy called Roy Stewart who, despite being seriously ill, was an amazing man to do Information Stands with. ‘Back off Roy, let them get in through the door first’ (lol))

*and I instinctively used third person plural pronouns, Sam, because we already do in certain circumstances. I mean I have no issue with gender transition, but, as an editor, I’m not sure why you still use first person singular pronouns when talking about yourself. Why not third person plural for consistency?

But this week it doesn’t have to be a health thing.

Last week the European Ladies Golf team (under the captaincy of Scot, Catriona Matthew, who played a major part in my PR career many years ago) beat the Americans with the final putt on the final hole in the final match of the Solheim Cup. It was sunk by Suzann Petterson who had hardly played in the last two years, was something like 630th in the World and was a personal pick by Catriona……… 😀

Everyone was a heroine (deliberate use of female of hero) in the team but to be have been written off and then to have written her own chapter in sporting history was amazing….wasn’t it?

And Fernando Ricksen? A hero. Not my favourite as a player altho’ I’ve no real views about Old Firm players but in recent years, he played a blinder spreading the word about MND. And his wife and the rest of his family. There’s an amazing shot of Fernando on his super dooper wheelchair going into some event and his wife leans over and adjusts his head so it’s up and looking forward and looking cool and commanding and not slumped…… 😀

And Gareth Thomas…… Now, I’m not 100 per cent sure why he spoke when he did. The documentary was more or less recorded and about to be broadcast and he was going to talk about being HIV in that and that was one of the reasons why he had done the Ironman Triathlon challenge to show that being HIV did not mean being a wimp….he just hadn’t told his parents and then had to go public because it was about to become public.

I though Gareth came out of it with grace and courage and it may make more people think about overcoming stigma. Well done….. 😀

And I was asked recently…….’wouldn’t it mean more to people if you described yourself as a recovered alcoholic….give more people hope of recovery?’

Seven years ago, I set myself a target of just being someone who ‘doesn’t drink’…….I think I’ve been pretty open about the reasons why I don’t drink and am more than happy to discuss those reasons but it’ll soon be thirteen years so I’m quite happy with the way I’ve done it.

Plus I think there are still too many connotations and stigma that still surround the word ‘alcoholic’. Lapsing is not inevitable.

And I did see one journo on TV saying that David Cameron’s depression wasn’t clinical because he had never taken anti-depressants. Nor have I but that doesn’t mean that my moments of anxiety and depression aren’t real.

And a new GP that I discussed this with last week shared my views. She was good…..’but there was a letter from your urologist in 2014 that said such and such but you never tried it……..I think we should give it a go…….peppermint or aniseed?’ 😉


And finally a wee word about the furore (eh?) surrounding some Head of a Fire Brigade (Lincolnshire?) who thought that Fireman Sam being white and male put people off. So I wonder if he (of course it’s a he) has ever seen Flora the Firefighter who is a real person and this should be standard viewing everywhere.


tioraidh, still wearing the badges (with pride) and still keeping it simple but I may send a birthday card

iaint850 who’s nobody’s hero but is happy waking up every morning.

And many years ago, at the age of 12 or so I was allowed into the adult, let’s call it the grown up, section of Peterhead Library cos I’d read all the kiddies’ books; and I seemed to be heavily into World War II books. I picked out one about Arnhem (seventy-five years ago) and happened to go into the newsagent that my dad used and the man behind the counter asked to see it and he looked at it, especially the photos.

‘Why?’ I asked my dad later.

‘Because he was at Arnhem and he survived but he doesn’t talk a lot about it.’

That night I stopped reading books by generals as I realised who the real heroes were. Many of mine over the last few days are listed above.

The Rod Stewart (and rainforestriverman) story can wait until next week.

Here’s Chumbwamba and their famous appearance on TV in the states and a song that is appropriate for so many people in today’s blog. If I’ve missed anyone out, for once let me know.

“That’s how the first lady got involved. She’s got a son, together, that is a beautiful young man and she feels very, very strongly about it. She’s seen it. We’re both reading it, a lot of people are reading it. But people are dying with vaping so we’re looking at it very, very closely.” (Donald Trump and I think the ‘she’ is his wife and the ‘young man’ is their son)

September 13, 2019

And so dear listener, many people are asking – I’m not saying this – but many people are asking how my toes are after last week’s bloody interlude and I’m just saying what they’re saying.…..and so, I’m just saying what people are saying in the style of snidey and cowardly Government minister, Kwasi Kwarteng*, who didn’t have the guts to actually say what he felt………(I can’t remember what about tho’…….Brexit?)

One Sunday newspaper described him as having ‘slimed into action.’

And then I saw his boss, Boris Johnson, being heckled and you realised that he, and they, can’t handle criticism. They have lived such privileged existences that they don’t understand what it’s like to be challenged. 😀

And I learned the art of handling hecklers when I debated at Glasgow University Union, where if someone heckled me, I’d say something like ‘If brains were taxed then my honourable friend is due a rebate.’ 😀 😀 😀

It was often said that I was a master debater.

Sorry. Where was I?

Oh, yes.

I was going to use that style of ‘some people say’ to talk a little about gender transition but not about people but about penguins and Fireman Sam and someone else but Piers Morgan and TV chef, James Martin, and someone else all got involved and it became a bit of a slanging match on social media and then my washing machine began to behave erratically and a cheque for £702 came in from my new solicitor but before I add two and two together and buy a new machine I will contact AS Electrics at Charing Cross and they will tell me if my very old washing machine is dead. 😦

And then I breathed out (see last week for details of my breathing) and reached for a pack of Thorntons Triple Chocolate Caramel Shortcake Bites available from the ASDA for 99p and ate three.

(They’re quite sickly, aren’t they?)

And all I’ll say is that I don’t think penguins give a toss about gender identity as long as they get plenty of fish and I love it when they jump feet first into the Antarctic and I was told that, during the Falklands War, never having seen helicopters before, as they flew overhead, the penguins would lean further and further back and land on their backs long before David Jason did it in Only Fools And Horses. 🙂

I also think Fireman Sam, Postman Pat and Colin the Coastguard (an idea I had from long ago that never made it out of my head into a programme proposal and only works if you say it out loud…….go on. Try it.) are all animated characters from some time back but should be used not be used as part of an argument in which they cannot take part but as props for conversation….discussing situations……….I think we’re in danger of rushing into so much cos we’re scared of being seen to be non-caring without thinking what we’re caring about.


I’m also a wee bit tired. There’s been a lot of editing – which is good. It’s been a difficult few months with various moments of anxiety and depression but it has helped to have those words on the screen and I enjoy it and I feel I make a difference (and I do get thanked as well as paid).

And I do understand if people don’t want to meet up with me. Don’t be pressured but don’t be pressured not to…….(eh?);)

However the 100,000 word PhD on the social issues caused by a major dam project in China as seen by a Chinese accountant was quite a challenge but my work, so far, has been well received by the author and I think any time anyone says to me,

‘Still doing the editing, iaint850? What is it? Just checking spelling and apostrophes?’

I will happily send them the original work and the finished work after two readings.

(And a big thanks to my business associate who helped with some of the editing and whose daughter, RJ, turned seven last week and Son Brian turned thirty-three. Nick Cage at the Tramway, here we come!)

Sorry, Skippy……???

Nick Cave at the Tramway here we come!!!!!

And finally, I’d like to pay credit to the Queen in this era of climatic concern, who seems to never stop planting trees and who also seems to have a wee woman’s smile on her face. I’d much rather have a wee chat with her than many of those I gloss over on social media. 🙂

Tioraidh, and I’ve lost one of the badges but I am still keeping it simple

Iaint850, and, now that I am no longer totally pescatarian, I often spend my nights binging on wine gums after a hard day’s editing.

So, there’s quite a lot on all forms of media just now about the number of drug related deaths and that something should be done but not all of them are saying what they want to see done. The SDF Conference I was at a couple of weeks ago had a number of people who had lived experience and positive contributions to make on the basis of that. I’m in the middle of writing up the Conference Report and will post a link to it eventually.

One was the high profile Garth Mullins from Canada who describes himself as a drug user activist who used to use injectable heroin but is now on methadone. He is the executive producer of the Crackdown podcast where drug users cover the drug war as war correspondents.

The other was Fiona Gilbertson who has twenty-five years of advocacy experience in HIV and sex work and who believes that the fundamental way to tackle stigma and discrimination is through policy changes. Fiona works with an organisation called Recovering Justice and is in long terms abstinence based recovery.

It was like being at a meeting in the early days of the trade union movement. The talk was of getting organised. And if there’s a common link to the eight hundred words above it’s an attempt to recognise my own rights and those that other people have. Take care.

I’m no longer a member of the NUJ but the last time I was in their offices in Union Street someone was singing this. They were good, but they weren’t no Bruce Springsteen, who’s just about to turn seventy.