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;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuNNx1WIIPY

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1AaKBbNGkk

‘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;

https://www.list.co.uk/event/480509-brian-keeley-and-bibo-keeley-the-shared-heart/

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

The reporting of my death has been greatly exaggerated (Mark Twain) but that is the worst I have felt in just over eight years (t850)

April 24, 2015

And so, dear listener, the cough, cold, lurgy thing I referred to last week, ran its course this week leading to some cancellations and some meetings which took place out in the open air, but did not involve long(ish) journeys and speaking. It was not ‘man flu’ which I think needs someone to look after you and get cups of coffee and, very importantly, make decisions for you e.g. ‘you’re not well enough to go to work. I’ll phone for you.’ :)

It was in fact an acute throat infection which left me shattered and sounding like a seal with whooping cough.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but I’m single and live alone and part of the agony of not-wellness is the tossing and turning before you decide to call something off………for the student nurses of South Lanarkshire College, it is, hopefully, merely a postponement; there’ll be other nightshifts; and I’m not really too sure who I was going to see at the Mitchell anyway.

And whilst my PhD application is still being discussed, I’m not sure I took in anything that was said to me when I was out there earlier this week. It’s a wee bit of a struggle at present, but I ‘don’t do walking’….. unless there’s £700,000 worth of gardening leave involved.

No. I don’t give up unless there’s a good reason for doing so. But No. No reason.

But I have felt awful. I went to the doctor’s on Wednesday morning. Interesting morning because a young lady came out of another doctor’s room, shouting, ‘I’m going to sue the cow! Telling me that it’s time that I should take some responsibility for myself! I’ve got mental health problems! I can’t take responsibility!’…….

Discuss using one side of a piece of paper only.

Anyway I got called through and the first words Doctor Dave said to me were, ‘God, John, you look awful.’ So I left minutes later with a sick line, a prescription and the advice to get as much rest as possible and as much fresh air as possible……so it’s back to the days of sleeping in the Botanic Gardens. I thought they were long since past.

But I have slept a lot. A couple of nights, I slept for twelve hours; and I’ve slept lying on top of my bed for a couple of hours on a number of occasions altho’ once was to hide out of the way cos I thought there might be a row between my gardener and a neighbour……but there wasn’t.

Yes. ‘gardener’.

But I did get out once and it did meet the doc’s criteria – well most of them. I went to the pub with the blogmeister. It was the Tuesday; I drove to the Botanic Gardens and parked; walked through the Gardens and down Byres Road and met him; and into Tennent’s Bar. And I didn’t know anyone. This great fear that I’d be going back into the sce……that I’d be going back. It was sooo much different from the pub I remember from approx ten years ago. ‘Do you want ice in your orange juice?’…..That alone was a quantum leap in culture. :)

Two drinks tho’ and my voice had gone and I wasn’t looking forward to the walk and drive home………I was knackered. But that just leaves the Three Judges and all my ghosts are exorcised.

However – back to me – talking about me and my illness. It’s a wee bit more heroin withdrawal than alcohol, I believe (and I suspect Hogan Sinclair would agree) but I should stress that I only did one of those but have witnessed the other.

I’m eating lots of scrambled eggs; the man at the petrol station backed off when I tried to say, ‘Pump Seven’; and my house is a pit but the refurbishment continues. I have now had a lot of electrical work done and thrown out 17 million double, triple and quadruple sockets. :)

So I’ll leave all that here and say

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it? No. Not this week.

Johnt850, a shadow of the man I once was.

So a lot of music over the last few days and a lot of things I can do nothing about. Several things are worryng me at present but they’re best tackled when I’m feeling better. Even yesterday #soulboydaviebee kept taking one step to the side when I was trying to explain to him why I would not be in his car going to Dingwall.

So here’s Ed Sheeran, Rudimental and ‘Bloodstream’

The last hour is the longest (Carol)

April 19, 2015

And so dear listener, it may not be a line on a par with ‘the first cut is the deepest’ but for me and my neighbour across the road, Carol, and every other nightshift worker, it is so the truth. For me, it was even more meaningful the other day, when I had been asked to stay on an extra (paid) hour for a nightshift staff meeting. Time can so drag when you’re looking out for some relief.

I’ve also been doing a lot of backshifts….out in daylight…it’s weird. Going to work in daylight and back home again. In daylight. Carol, my neighbour, works with senior citizens. I couldn’t do that. I don’t have the patience. For some reason, I still have more in common with the folk with whom I work than the elderly.

End of self-assessment. :)

So, I went to see Irvine Welsh on Friday night in the Mitchell Library, which has, you might be interested to know, rainforestriverman, a licence to sell alcohol – after that time we couldn’t get a cup of decaff. It’s Aye Write, the annual writers’ extravaganza, here in Glasgow…. And it has little competition from any other cultural event on Glasgow other than the Museum of Water in the Botanic Gardens…..So far, I have been able to restrain myself from going.

But is Irvine Welsh culture?

Leaving aside the famous Trainspotting, Filth, Porno and the Skag Boys, his last novel was about Siamese twins having sex and the narrative was by the women, leaving one lady, apparently, at a reading in Germany, asking him how he managed to slip into a woman……oh, how the audience laffed. And so did I. :D

He was good ‘cos he does the readings in real voices and was one of the best from that point of view that I have ever seen, but I did get annoyed at the way that the middle class, middle aged mostly women laffed whenever they heard certain words e.g. f*ck, sha* and *unt plus a whole range of East Coast words for things to do with sex…….I hear them a lot during my working day/night and I don’t find them funny…..but it’s different in a theatre with a glass of wine.

But my favourite moment came when someone (German accent) claimed to have moved to Scotland cos they’d read Trainspotting (wtf were they looking for and expecting to find?) Compare and contrast with an Embra friend (Catherine)who told me that she’d once told Irvine that Trainspotting had ruined her childhood.

And finally, it may look okay in Glasgow Centre to wear blue Spandex gloves when you’re carrying rubbish into the skips, but see when you come back with nothing in your hands other than those gloves you don’t half get some funny looks. Inspiration for Irvine Welsh?

And finally, finally, this has not been the best of blogs; nor has it been the worst of blogs but I feel awful. I did a twelve hour shift the other day and a simple frog in the throat has become a horrible phlegmatic cough. I would take cough syrup but I like the taste too much and what it does to me when I drink too much too quickly…….all suggestions gratefully received…..but I won’t be at the Mitchell tonight. I just want a decent night’s sleep.

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it….once all the work to the house is done.

Johnt850 and the harder I work, the tastier the apple gets

A few weeks ago I went for coffee with a friend and the subject of the Sandyford Clinic came up. I may explain more why on another occasion, but the Sandyford Initiative is a well-known oasis of health advice on matters sexual, drink and drug related issues in an incredibly wide sense (in sexual also read gender issues). It also plays a part in one of these wee stories of friendship I throw up from time to time – kinda like a Church of Scotland minister…which is what my mum always wanted me to be.

Let’s go back ten years when my mum had died but the alcohol dependency had already kicked in. I was ‘teaching’ (?) Public Relations to a class (HNC?) at what was then Glasgow Metropolitan College and I told them to run a real campaign and choose a charity. This was novel, particularly as all the previous tutors had got classes to do things in the College and get Brownie points. They thought I was weird. Little did they know. (My current co-workers thought the same when I first started)

Four good looking young ladies (18/19) chose the Sandyford as their charity and ran a kinda raffle to raise funds for it. The ruse was simple – ‘Guess How Many Condoms are in this Jar’. A lot of people chose 69 as the answer. Some of my boss people were critical of me for doing this but it worked………they passed with flying colours and went onto greater things.

But something else happened; three of the four became good friends of mine – Missie K, the Vampire Slayer and Blondie – and were of tremendous help in my recovery. All students were told of my cancer; these three were the first to be told of my Cold Turkey. Interesting, eh, where friends come from……..brilliant place, the Sandyford.

No. No reason.

This is Hector Bizerk. I’ll explain why next week.

You can be up to your boobies in white satin, with gardenias in your hair and no sugar cane for miles, but you can still be working on a plantation (Billie Holiday)

April 11, 2015

And so dear listeners, I very rarely talk about my work and tonight’s show is no exception, but many of you know a lot of it is at night – in supported accommodation for the homeless and they’re entitled to their anonymity in blog terms. No. It’s Glasgow at 3.30 in the morning I want to describe. Last Sunday, or Easter Monday, to be more precise.

But it was the Sunday that made it so peculiar. Facebook had basically been split into two; those for whom Christ had risen and those for whom it was a day to hide eggs and let children find them. Should have been a quiet shift and it was but it was outside that worried me.

The only time at night I should leave the project, which is at the nice’n’sleazy end of Glasgow, is to take bin bags out to the bins in the alleyway around the corner but this night I was out several times. Sunday into Monday should be a quiet night. Very few bars and clubs are open beyond midnight but one was and it was well stewarded. The one fight seemed to be well sorted out. I won’t say why I was out but the streets were not pleasant.

Broken bottles on the pavement; taxi drivers shouting insults at drunks waiting in the ranks and then pulling out when they ran after them; and some very drunk young ladies who fortunately had friends to look after them because there are men lurking in the shadows. And there was a fog coming down the street. It wasn’t a fog that was there; it was a fog that was rolling in like some of those I remember from my upbringing in Peterhead – just off the North Sea. Those effete Southerners who were complaining of smog the other day should have experienced one of those. I shivered. A lot. I was not dressed for ‘out’ but I had to be there.

And then my shift finished at 7.30 and another twelve hours of my life had passed. All every Edgar Allan Poe-ish. I have a book of all his stories – published in 1890. When I get the chance to read to my grand-daughter, I’ll maybe start with The Murders in the Rue Morgue. :)

Right let’s brighten up.

Actually many years ago, when I was working for the BBC down in London, I met Don McLean. He was appearing in a TV show (Nationwide – ask elderly people) and I was his Meet’n’Greet and I did ask him…..’So what do the lyrics mean in American Pie?’

‘A lot of money, John’, was his reply. :D

So when a women’s team win the Posh University Boat Race what do they do with their cox?

And it’s really nice that Andy M has finally married Kim. Maybe, since he’s so rich, she could give up her job and follow him to some games…or matches…or rounds…or whatever they’re called.

And work goes on at t850 Towers where I now have a new porch, altho’ I do wish it was a new Porsche after the amount of money I’ve spent on my car this month. Zombie Michele, you will be pleased to hear that I no longer have to drive over bumps in the road to get it working. :)

And I spent some time with the latest member of e’s family – H the dog. In Victoria Park. What does H stand for? Not a lot. A very no-nonsense dog is H. She’s a labradoodle with whom I’m trying to bond……I’m more a mongrel. Which is no slight on my parents but one of my grans was illegitimate and I’m convinced my genes come from her. The rest of my family is financially inclined – even L, to whom I was once married, is a chartered accountant.

Me? An alcoholic journalist. But no longer…either. But I still have a press card. I still pay my union dues. :)

My/our folks were dead normal but the financial thing showed through. I was never really taught how to ride a bike or swim. Instead I learned how to count the collection in St Andrew’s Parish Church – four half crowns, three two bob bits and four shillings (ask elderly people) made a pound and you used a ruler to make sure every column of silver was exactly the same. Happy daze. We made our own fun but we were happy. :(

And finally, as well as my usual nights (on average two a week) I’ve been working back shifts last week and this coming week getting home ‘bout eleven and eventually getting to bed/sleep. And as Jamie T said last week (kinda) there’s someone/thing on my mind and my workmen arrive dead early so I am knacked but the last two weeks of this month? – party central would be nice. Any offers? :)

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

So I’ve had some problems textually since I came back from Lisbon and I’m slightly worried in case I’m being blocked (accidentally or deliberately) so I’m meeting up to go drinking with the Blogmeister and he’ll be able to offer advice. In the early days of my time with Study Buddie Fi (every week a different supermarket in Ayrshire) she blocked me – by accident.

But me and the Blogmeister are going to conquer another of my fears. I have not been in Tennents in Byres Road for at least eight years (since the Cold Turkey Weekend). I only recently went back to the Curlers (Rest) and that was for an Arts and Craft Fair where Mo was showing off her jewellery skills.

I remain convinced that someone will recognise me and offer to buy me a pint. I intend to go up to the bar and order an orange juice and a pint of whatever for my mate. Well maybe not in that order. It’s in a couple of weeks’ time. I’ll let you know how I get on. :)

And also next week, why I’m giving up fishing but casting around for something else and I may have found it.

Billie Holiday had issues with alcohol and drugs but she was persecuted by the police – and a man called Harry Anslinger who is responsible for many of the closed minds toward drink and drugs that exist today – to the extent that she was arrested on her deathbed. She was also a fighter for civil rights. This next track combines that concern with her amazing voice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4ZyuULy9zs

Don’t you find, some of the time There is always someone on your mind ……. (Jamie T)

April 4, 2015

And, yes, that is the lyric I decided not to use last week. Or some of it.

And so dear listener, having spent the last few days after my Lisbonese adventure catching up with friends and family (that’s me read the Digger for this week), it’s time to catch up with so much else. At breakneck speed. :)

So I’d dental work done and tried to eat beans after it. Don’t!……:(

I’ve been seeing a herbalist (what’s that Skippy?)….. I’ve been consulting a herbalist for a small bladder problem which is the only residual after my cancer and alcohol issues of long ago. For the first time ever the NHS has let me down and herbs it is. Except – and I’d never thought of this – she can’t give me a tincture. So, no Laudanum then.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laudanum

So I’ve been given a herbal tea which, in its natural form (not in a bag) looks like something that wouldn’t look out of place in an Amsterdam grinder. And a pill (well, more than one) which tastes like emulsion paint and it’s here I begin to wonder – at what point in the Dark Years did I try emulsion paint?

And this week’s Rant of the Month. It is a matter of weeks since my car was serviced and my mouth had a check-up and two fillings replaced. This week my car heater stopped working (even when I drive it over bumps and sleeping policeman in Strathclyde Park) and I’ve lost two more fillings. Had I list of things to tick off I would be less than happy. As it is I use post-its and I’ve been raking through the bins. And the driver’s door is still erratic.

And big thanks to e and Kenny the Shed Pimp who are acting as Project Managers in the refurbishment of t850 Towers. This house is no longer mine….it seems and for the best of reasons. I have, for the first time ever, a dining table – assembled by a financial controller and new CD storage units assembled by a joiner. But I came home the other night to find a new front door in my living room and God Knows how the couch got in that place but I put it back.

The saddest thing of all this is that every time someone comes to do something to the house, no matter how small, I insist on showing them the shelves I put up. Many years ago. :)

And I ate in Frankie and Benny’s the other day. In the Fort, Easterhouse, altho’ I have no idea why it’s called the Fort. I like it because it’s open to the elements and it seems more like High Street shopping rather than the Silverburns and Braeheads of this world. And Nicola Sturgeon was in there immediately before us.

And why’s it taking so long for postcards to get back from Lisbon?

And it was nice to get involved in fbook conversations with Zoe the Zombie (interesting stuff about Doctor Who) and with the blogmeister about how depression is represented in Gaming. It could be helpful in providing something to share in real-life work……even nicer when someone thanked us for sharing it on fbook..

Aye, depression. I have not followed the tabloid ins and outs of Andreas Lubitz who murdered 149 people by deliberately crashing an aeroplane into the mountains. Much of what has been said seems to centre round various diagnoses carried out several years ago but if we don’t allow people to move on, then no-one ever will. For every Lubitz there’s a t850 who, when I returned to work at the then Glasgow Metropolitan College, was cried ‘scum’ by line managers who also said alcoholics (as I termed myself then) were bound to lapse and couldn’t be trusted.

Well I think I’m reasonably well liked by folk; have not had an alcoholic drink for over eight years; and along with a colleague am responsible on a nightly basis for looking after 25 homeless people…..altho’ if anybody gets aggressive and threatening, I can call in the police.

There is nothing more alluring than three policewomen in hi-vis jackets and truncheons erect ready to kick down a door. No. No reason. :)

And finally, it was a difficult shift on Tuesday night; it was a smashing one on Friday.

Johnt850. Am I tough enough? Hell,….. well not all the time, and maybe that’s the fishing problem. I can’t do ‘not nice’. And that’s a big problem in life. :(

And as regular listeners know, friendships are important to me. They’ve not only helped me in my various recoveries but have pushed me to take on so many challenges – the two people mentioned earlier are prime examples in that I’ve known the blogmeister since just before my cold turkey and Zoe is a zombie who I’ve only known (kinda) since October but who took such a brilliant pic of me as a zombie and it’s up there next to my son graduating and me with my Master’s. And I’d coffee with the rainforestriverman this week.

I always love the blogmeister’s story of, just before the cold turkey, I said to the class he was in, that I wasn’t feeling well. I would go outside for a few minutes and he never saw me again for about six months; not until I attended the End of Year Exhibition at the College. Zoe, please keep me posted on that.

So, I’m worried about someone who’s been brilliant for me and I’ve been in touch but all I can do now is to back off and see what happens. A slight tear in  the eyes, a cry of Chinese accountants and a closing track.

This is Little Eva and the Locomotion. It even makes you happy when you’re feeling low.  I’ll get the moves right yet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKpVQm41f8Y

It’ll maybe be Aye, it’ll maybe be Naw but until you ask, it’ll always be Maybe* (Ruth Watson)

March 27, 2015

And so dear listener, you may remember last week’s blog ended with me in a strange bed in a Lisbon hotel-room having had my fill of custard tarts, hash dealers and sex shops and can I just say what a nice hotel room it was. En-suite and with bed’n’breakfast thrown in (Do your own gag) for £34 a night booked in Glasgow. :)

Day Two started. And I went and had breakfast; rolls, croissants, cold meats (No Sirree…not for me), processed cheese, coffee and marmalade with real oranges. And I clocked the single mum. But, hey, I was on holiday. ;)

Now what I don’t want this to be is a travelogue. Apart from anything else my original plan was buggered. The original idea had been to use the Wednesday afternoon and evening to do the walking in the area and to plan something like a bus journey for today (Thursday) in order to ‘site/sight see’ (a lovely phrase borrowed from Dr W). :D

That was out the window. So I decided to walk up to the castle I’d seen the previous night and see Lisbon from there.

So I did. Big long walk. Didn’t make it to the very top cos my fear of heights got in the way of last set of steps.

I could go up but was terrified of coming down. I could have zip-wired or abseiled happily, but walking down those steep steps? No way, Jose, so I pretended to limp.

And then I walked; and sat; and coffeed; and visited ‘the sexiest wc in the world’; and ate grilled sardines which were too big and came back on me later; and I bought and sent some postcards; and coffeed; and sat; and chilled; and got leaflets for my next trip here (altho some ppl are suggesting ‘try another city before you find the one you want to retire to’); and watched the river do nothing; and much of my head cleared; and I had a toastie cos the sardines were still coming back; and watched some young people playing with a piece of street furniture which was like a large tablet (as in Apple etc) which allowed them to do graffiti on-screen and take selfies and stuff; and coffeed and chilled; and had my final custard tart of the day; and I went to bed to sleep……and that was Day Two. :D

Day Three arrived and the journey home beckoned. But I bought some t-shirts including one for my G/daughter and had a final tart and got a taxi to the airport. Compared with Wednesday night’s grump, this guy was good. I had seen so little of Lisbon with its wide avenues and fountains and statues on each roundabout (which reminds me I’m doing some prostate cancer presentations in East Kilbride later in April) and it’s just sooooo lovely. :)

I was at the airport. On my own. But I asked at TAP (Portugal Airlines) where the check-in was and she pointed to a wide range of check-in desks. Big queue but moving. So I joined it and was also moving. Check-in went fine until the words, ‘I need to explain something on your boarding pass? It says stand-by. Don’t worry. You’ll get a seat okay but we know the flight is over-booked but some people won’t be here. We’re going to upgrade frequent flyers of which you’re not one. You’ll be fine.’ :( :( :(

With heavy heart I walked to the Gate where I met some others on ‘standby’ and we spoke to a lady who said, ‘Just wait and you’ll be fine’ but it didn’t help when someone, who was tweeting, said ‘possibly get us to London and then transfer to flight to Manchester’. My tears were internal. It didn’t happen and we all got seats. It’s my luggage – a Calloway Golf Bag with no Pringle sweaters – I was worried about. Not me. Honest, guv.

The flight was fine but I must confess to a lapse; there was cold meat in the roll that passed for the ‘light meal’. It’s not ethical and according to Prochaska and di Clemente it happens (Yes as regards pescatarianism but, no, and to my great pride, never in my alcohol recovery). My tears were internal. :)

But we reached Manchester (Not Leeds. Not Bradford. Not London.) without any hassle and I did the walking thing between the two terminuses and the checking-in thing and then I sat in the hell that is Domestic Departures. I had a nice goat’s cheese salad but the guy next to me in the restaurant reminded me of what it used to be like in the days when I flew for the BBC – a gin’n’tonic; a starter; a bottle of wine; and a main course and that’s a good hour filled in before the flight.

And then came time to look for the Gate number and every Gate above and below Glasgow was getting filled. And my panic returns and my tears are there but barely holding on. And this voice that sounds like Mickey Mouse on helium announces Gate 43 and it’s two minutes down the corridor and the Flybe rep starts to actually talk to us without the mic and he really does have a voice that sounds like Mickey Mouse on helium. We all look at each other as if to say ‘he really does have a voice that sounds like Mickey Mouse on helium.’

So we got on the plane and the stewardess asked if I would move from 11c to 10c and would I make myself acquainted with the instructions for opening the emergency door. In the event of an emergency I would be responsible. I trembled but was happy so to do. I spent the entire flight worrying, particularly as I could see a UFO that no-one else could – it turned out to be a light at the end of the wing. :)

And so, finally, dear listener we landed – safely – and within minutes I was re-united with my bag. My tears were external. At the cost of the taxi home from the airport. Jeez. But I was home.

Cya, still wearing that badge and having defo gone for it, * and I’m going to phone some folk rather than text them

Johnt850, feeling the need to constantly regenerate

So I had done what I wanted to do; I experienced a trip abroad. Lisbon was the vehicle; going and coming back were the destinations. I know some folk find it hard to understand but remind yourself that one of my best friends is an invisible bush kangaroo called Skippy and maybe it makes sense? My confidence is boosted. :)

Ciao…….oops wrong country

I was going to play ‘Don’t You Find’ by Jamie T but the lyrics are open to misinterpretation. So here’s the Reading Festival version of last year’s top hit – ‘Zombie’. Watch for the guy trying to take a selfie with the band!

It is better to have travelled and struggled that never to have travelled at all (me)

March 21, 2015

And so, dear listener, the week got off to such a good start. I had food with Missie K in the downstairs bit of Prince’s Square and over the course of a couple of gentle and lazy hours my world was put right; I ended up in holiday mood and I was given such good fishing advice. I am entitled to my views about the age of the fish but I should use a longer line and a bigger net :)

And Tuesday was just that kinda quiet organisational kinda day that you have before going away; putting out the rubbish, final packing and electronic check-in just to prove you’re hip to new technology in the grooviest kinda way. I was going to Lisbon with a connection at Manchester. :)

….and then it all went disastrously wrong….disastrously. :(

The taxi drive to the airport was fine altho’ my paranoia did kick in when the taxi driver talked about me being single and I replied ‘yes’ altho’ I didn’t tell him my life story – was he checking me out for his pals to break in when I wasn’t there? My fears went when he talked about how expensive it was to take his wife and two children to Pakistan every two or three years. I give him a good tip. ;)

The check-in was okay and I’d a wee side seat on my own at the side…….and we got up in the air and then the captain was speaking: ‘A lot of fog in the Manchester area and we are in a holding area but we have plenty of fuel (‘we’?).’ And we held and we circled and then came the announcement I’d been dreading. We weren’t going to Manchester but to Leeds/Bradford…….I would miss my connection. :(

Sitting on the tarmac at Leeds (or is it Bradford?) thinking of Lisbon.

Eventually a bus took us to the terminus. We hung around and I worried about my one piece of luggage still being somewhere when a door opened and out it fell. We hung around and then a strange bus turned up and this was ours….twenty minutes after we’d been told it was on its way. Further confusion as the driver refused to leave until somebody from the terminus had counted heads. It was only when a Glaswegian voice from the back threatened to take his off if he didn’t go soon, did he start the motor. I then did the bit where I looked behind me as well pretending to wonder whose voice it was.

We are tremendously lucky in Glasgow to have a motorway to and from the airport with its ability to connect with roads to the South, to the East and to Summerston. This one went through rural and urban byways and over bumpy roads; my texting my woes was less than adequate.

D’you remember, Dr W, the time you ran the marathon in Embra and we got on a bus* that took us from Musselburgh Primary School to Straiton Car Park where my car was? Well it was like that all the way to Manchester – nothing but people’s back gardens. *there’s something I’ve never told you about that bus…….. ;)

We got to Manchester and I took my bag to the international terminus I thought I’d be leaving from – only to be told I had to go back to the previous one and talk to the FlyBe desk (or at least the people behind it) and they would sort things out. So I went back and there was an enormous queue cos of the problems that Manchester had had that morning. :(

It took an hour and a half to get sorted and a letter of complaint will be going off and I got a food voucher so I was eating a baked potato with prawns at the time I should have been eating something a lot more exotic in Lisbon….but my phone was charging in some cleaner’s hoover socket beside me.

The flight to Lisbon was lovely and unbusy. The light meal was a filled roll with tuna and olives and a prune drink for afters. :D

I arrived; did all the check-out things including my first ever e-passport and collected my luggage. I knew where the taxis were and what roughly it would cost. The taxi marshall was organising the queue and I didn’t have to wait long. For a taxi whose driver did not speak English. This should not have been a problem as I had the name of my hotel on a sheet of paper and I knew it was in the City Centre off the Avenida da Liberdade. He ignored this and stabbed at the Sat Nav with the stub of a bookie’s pencil whilst drinking from a bottle of water and starting to take his leather jacket off. And then changing his mind. And putting it back on. And stabbing at the Sat Nav, ad infinitum. :( :( :(

And we made the Avenida and I’m saying ‘it’s over there’ but he drove round it twice and then asked fellow taxi drivers who said, ‘It’s over there,’ I arrived. At a perfectly clean and tidy hotel just off the main Avenue for £34 per night. Value. :)

I was tired but I thought I’ve lost my day; let’s go for a walk. So I did and round the corner from the hotel on the way to the Avenida was a ‘Peep Show and Sex Shop’.

I did not go in. I’ve been …….I’ll move on. To the Avenida. Stepping over the homeless in the doorways and telling a man who offered me some white pills that I didn’t want any. The brochure had described this area as ‘young and vibrant’ but I would say ‘seedy’.

I walked down various streets and rejected various offers of ‘try before you buy’ from various hash(ish) sales people. I think if I tried and declined, I would not be here just now. I don’t think I have ever knocked back so much hash in one night in my life (Skippy, that sentence doesn’t seem right…..) but I walked down to the river and I decided I was happy. :)

I had a cup of coffee and two custard tarts (nothing to do with the Peep Show next door) and went to bed. Smiling. I was in Lisbon. I had arrived.

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

Johnt850 aka Mr Adventurer.

Next week, or maybe mid-week, I will tell you more about the other two days but to a certain extent, I was achieving what I wanted. It has been so long since I ventured abroad that I wanted a kinda practice and I don’t think I’ve ever done it on my own – always with someone or with a group. It was a learning experience.

But my thanks to Son Brian, my sis, e and Dr W for replying to texts so quickly…….they are used to my idiosyncratic ways and are so very patient………..

I also understand why holidays mean so much to people in my line of work. Fresh air – literal and metaphorical.

…at least no-one offered me Red Exodus or Black Mamba….it’s only time.

This is Martha and the Muffins…and the sax solo’s as good as Baker Street.


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