The worst has happened. It can only get better (and the person who said that to me wishes to remain anonymous in case it all goes horribly wrong in the future.

September 23, 2016

And so dear listener, tonight’s show will be totally anxiety-free. I will not mention the incredibly steep descent from the very back of Kilmarnock FC’s ‘away’ stand which had me terrified as the end of the game came closer and closer (but I survived) or the fact that, on my first visit to Paisley for some time (to see uni-Sharon), I got confused as to which lane I should be in for going to the Lagoon – which is a gym and sports centre whose car park I use for that side of town…..but I made it another bar-diner with no problem a few days later.🙂

Instead let’s go back to some of the simpler and happier pleasures which used to permeate this blog. Like the new car………😀

It has a USB point (gulp) through which I seem to be able to charge my phone (but not to use the phone altho’ I have been guilty of reading texts at lights and maybe replying ‘ok’ or ‘15 mins’) but I do wish I’d a Go Pro to show the world the twunt who, having seen me leave a reasonable gap between me and the car in front at a pedestrian crossing (lights at red), nipped in and then ten seconds later, he parked and flipped me the finger when I looked at him. Life’s too short……

And people like the colour (Deep Impact Blue)…….lots of people still to see it though and, given my feelings of recent weeks, I’d like them to see it and be driven in it – if only to read the instructions so I can set the DAB radio.Which I seem to have unset.

You know who you are.

And then there was the pleasantness of childminding/putting to bed  AJ and RJ (and can I just point out to anyone to whom I said that RJ was three years old, she is in fact four but she’ll thank me for losing the odd year from her life in the future)🙂

And running into a wee period of birthdays which I’m really keen to celebrate as I’ve bought loads of presents before my money runs out (monthly payments for the car)

You know who you are.

And I understand that Tennent’s have launched a gluten free lager and I’d be keen to know what that tastes like – from someone else’s description. Even before Cold Turkey Sunday I’d a poor opinion of non/low alcohol lagers and I have been offered such drinks in the last few years but I do think drinking these would send out the wrong message.😦

If I don’t miss alcohol then why am I drinking something that looks like it? It’d be like breaking up with a good looking girl and then going out with her frumpy twin sister. (Skippy, are you sure about that analogy?)🙂

And I’m going to start editing again. I had been told (by my business partner) not to take any on in September as August had been soooooo busy but I got asked to do 14,000 words and I said no but what I need to do is just be careful what I take in.

I enjoy doing it. There’s an intellectual challenge in helping people to get their message across; there’s money in it; and I enjoy helping people.

So flyering unies needs doing altho’ quite a few of the unies have changed. I’ve seen UWS (Paisley) change from the outside (as it were) but not yet seen inside and they’ve been working on Glasgow Caley Uny for years……..and one of the worst aspects of all this is that unies are tending to install closed noticeboards.😦

You know who you are.

And finally, whilst I have no intention of getting involved in the current argument as to whether one lesbian calling another lesbian a dyke is homophobic or not, I did see the performance by Whitserface on social media and what I saw was an appalling piece of theatre – badly performed and totally unfunny. But what do I know?

Johnt850, white, heterosexual and (probably still) middle class

But I am still wearing that badge and keeping it simple.

So it is exactly five years since I enrolled in Drink’n’Drugs at UWS (Paisley) and I remember my first day as if it were yesterday. I was full of trepidation but I needn’t have worried. Everyone was jolly friendly and whilst I may not have ended up doing the kinda job I thought I’d end up doing, I am happy (recent issues excepted) doing the job I’m doing.🙂

But it was more than just obtaining a qualification for a job.

It was about testing myself academically and in a subject very close to my heart having cold turkeyed five years previously. I learned a lot more about my own alcohol dependency and the fact that it is not a lifelong illness. I learned this through developing academic skills, which weren’t that dissimilar to journalistic skills in that evidence, and not blind belief, was important – something missing in a world where the idea of an expert is belittled by politicians – and if you don’t support the same political party, then some people have no intention of giving your argument any credence.

But I made friends, some of whom I remain in good contact with. They range from uni-Sharon, Caroline, Jo and Jo and Audrey, to J, the blog’s favest librarian (and tbh, J was the only one of the library staff whose name I knew but they were all brilliant), and lecturers like Iain, Dougie and Ken.

Whatever I am, whatever I have become is my responsibility but I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Paisley and miss much of it.

Oh, and Shirley and Neil and Fi and Cameron and Big Peter upstairs in the library and Anne and Nessa and Ewelina and the lecturer mate of Dougie whose name I never learned but had some great conversations with him and the very nice young man in the uni-shop who thought I was a lecturer and gave me ten per cent discount and Borgia’s where I was served weird (veggie) lasagne and can I just mention J again for encouraging my current interest in country music and this was recommended to me by top Radio Clyde country deejay, John Collins. Just click the link and hit the picture…….

From Braemar to the son of God: Robbie Shepherd Takes The Floor for the last time

September 16, 2016

And so dear listener I went back to work with my first nightshift in five weeks and I enjoyed it. And altho’ there are still issues to be resolved, I felt quite happy in the twilight world where I work.  One of the service users, on knowing I was coming back, had bought me a small cake – pretty much pure pink sugar with cream but the sugar buzz made sure I made it until 7.30 in the morning without any drowsiness and well beyond.🙂

But it’s been a difficult four weeks being signed off with ‘anxiety and depression’ – although as I have said, I’ve been more anxious than depressed.

And the main issue has not gone away and altho’ there are people out there with much bigger issues than mine, five weeks ago, I had got through a difficult weekend and had had a smashing twelve hour night shift and had had two hours sleep and then I got an email about the issue and I just broke down……..tears and shaking.😦

So I did what I told you at the time; I wrote a Post-It to myself – ‘phone doctor’ –and went back to bed for a very fitful sleep.  The next day I phoned the Green Zone Surgery at Maryhill Health Centre at 8.30 and, if I needed any confirmation of my anxiety, it began to show. I was worrying whether their phone system was working properly, had they changed their phone number and not told me or……well you get the idea.

But, none of the above. I got Doctor Fiona; we talked and I got signed off for four weeks. I phoned the work from the Health Centre and after a minute or two of disbelief they were fine.

And then the next set of problems starts.

I’ve been signed off from this current job a couple of times before. The first was a throat virus infection thing which built up over a twelve hour Saturday dayshift and it was obvious to co-workers and service users that I was not well; the other was when I planked, unintentionally, to the side and I had a huge bruise or several and a black support bandage. Not only was it obvious that I had a problem but it did my street cred no end of good cos of ‘the fight’ I’d been in.🙂

But when it’s mental, it doesn’t always show.

So the first week was about telling people and because it was so sudden, I was still getting work related stuff by both e and snail mail which didn’t help; I spoke informally to my legal which did. But there is a guilt in that first week. People do make contact and some are quite comfortable in doing so; others are not so sure. And if I’m anxious and depressed, am I right to accept offers of coffee and lunch and so on? What should I be doing instead?

But a big thanks to those who did get in touch or, just as importantly, kept in touch telling me what was happening to them in an update on what they were doing. Serious thanks. It would be so easy to just think about myself and create my own little world. Hopefully, I didn’t.

And Dennis, I will be in touch.

I had settled down by weeks Two and Three and Week Four was about getting ready to go back to work, although I had to go in for a stress assessment first – which in itself was worrying.  But going back to work has not been a problem. My support team never ceases to amaze me. Thank you🙂

Cya, still wearing that badge (which helped to keep me sane) and quite content to keep it simple

Johnt850, feeling good, looking fine.

So I was right to be paranoid about the tyres. All four valves were very, very, very slightly open and a little each day they were getting flatter and flatter but when I took them for a drive, they seemed to fatten. But one morning it was obvious that two were deflated (but not depressed) so the AA came and pumped them up (techno doesn’t do it for me as much as it once did).😀

So the next day I bought a new car (although I had decided to do it a few days previously). Now, this is where a wee bit of the guilt thing kicks in. Was I in the right frame of mind to make this decision? Well, Son Brian came with me when I first went but I was trusted on my own the second time around.

It’s a nice colour (Deep Impact Blue) and the Eco-boost thing is where it switches itself off at lights, etc and you have to nudge the clutch and it kicks in again, so a wee bit of practice before I can do the boy racer starts. And I have to engage the clutch before I turn the key.

Dear car drivers out there, when was the last time you had to think which one was the clutch?

And on that note……..

One of the biggest buzzes I have had in the last ten years was when I did a live on STV’s The Hour about six years ago. I was talking about prostate cancer (now, there’s a surprise) and Stephen Jardine finished the 3’ 48” by saying to me,

‘Robert de Niro, Nelson Mandela and Johnt850 – all of whom have come through prostate cancer – successfully.’

(and I had to bite my bottom lip to prevent a small tear appearing in my eye which is not a good look on teatime TV)

This week? It’s me and Bruce Springsteen.


Those who hold others to account, must themselves be accountable (Vaz 2016)

September 8, 2016

And so dear listener, I do believe that this week’s headline does apply to much of my current situation (but for different reasons from Keith Vaz) but I’m still not saying too much about it. However, I’m now finished with taking stock and maybe it’s now time for making stock.😉

No. That doesn’t really make any sense, does it,  other than to suggest a certain positivity which may have been lacking……but again can I say thanks to those people who contacted me and asked things, like ‘how are you?’ or did positive things like get that job (and some of you may know what I’m talking about) and that made me feel good.

And it means I can now tell this joke.

Me: Yes. Why do we assume that dinosaurs roared? After all, they could have talked just like us. We weren’t there.

Interviewer: No. I meant did you have any questions about this job interview?

But, as I write this and you read it, I have still not made my mind up about returning to work. And a certain anxiety remains but it’s kinda weird. Last night my left hand felt thicker than my right but today they both seem the same.

Just out of interest, gonna check yours? Please. Thanks.🙂

But, it may be decided at a family meal taking place just now – even as I write this – and I may be in two places at once …..It’s a while since I’ve spoken about parallel universes….Skippy! Fire up the time machine…..I wonder what I’m eating and am I enjoying it?

No. It’s for Son Brian’s 30th birthday and can I just say to people who go, ‘don’t they grow up quick?’, that it’s taken him exactly thirty years to get to this age – the same length of time it took me.🙂

Moving swiftly on.

A big thanks to listener Becky from North London for her book suggestions for what she describes as my ‘little readers’. I don’t think she means grown-ups below 5’ 6”; I think she means the large number of children I seem to have contact with at various levels of Kevin Baconness.  It was just amazing to know that there is actually a sequel to The Day The Crayons Quit (and not Went On Strike as I described it – giving away a little of my trade union background)  and I think two are now on my Christmas Present Pile.

And finally, I’m in process of buying a new car (altho’ the word ‘process’ does annoy me but since the business side of me is called The Word Process, I’ve got to be careful)…..sorry? Where was I?

The Clio I have is brilliant but I’ve lost some confidence in it. The new one may well be a Ford Fiesta in Deep Impact Blue and is a one litre Eco Boost (No. Me neither). I know that the colour is important to many people but once I’m actually introduced to the actual car I feel I should ask deep penetrating stereotypically male questions like……well, I’m not sure what they should be.🙂

But I will kick the tyres. That always looks impressive. At least, I was impressed when a good friend did it to mine in February after a small altercation with a traffic island..

It seems to have a CD player. USB sticks worry me just a touch at the moment (No. No reason, I lied) but my thanks to Son Brian for his help in the purchase.

But soon, I may have to watch the pennies and a freespending me might be  a thing of the past which is why I’m stockpiling birthday and Christmas presents now😀😀

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Johnt850, as flamboyant as any flamingo.

So I’ve been doing a lot of reading, including some of my academic books (drink’n’drugs), but also some mental health stuff including some websites as, at one point in my academic writing, I was keen to highlight how our attitudes towards mental health have changed but that much of how we view addicts or those, like myself once upon a time, who are dependent on certain substances, have not.

But I’ve always had my reservations about self-help groups and that they simply serve to perpetuate a feeling that some things cannot be cured or it’s impossible to move on. It’s not that I’m against AA but I do have concerns about an organisation whose existence depends on people believing that alcoholism is an incurable disease based on no evidence but a belief – and that’s a whole big ball game for discussion and too much for here.

And I will say that AA does bring hopes of a life without alcohol to many people but the culture and the writing are over eighty years old and have never moved on.

But I want to quote, without comment, some selected words from Jennifer Boykin in the Huffington Post recently. Coming up for twenty-seven years ‘continuous sobriety’, she said,

‘I don’t believe in the language of recovery anymore. After decades of hard work, prayer, amends and general good living, I find it hard to think of myself as defective of character. Yes, of course, I have many fine points that could be sanded down when you compare me to my ‘Higher Power’ but all of the broad strokes and many of the others have long since been eradicated…..

I’m a free agent. It’s just God and me.’

And my point? Some of the mental health websites I looked at seemed to suggest that people (themselves saying this) would never recover. I think it can be done in almost any area; but all it needs is to share positive thoughts and positive questions.

There. That helped.

In a few months it will be time to think of the Blog Personality of the Year and regular listeners will know that it’s rarely a person. So a gig that J and I went to earlier this year would be a contender and the thrill felt by many when this man walked on. Ladies and gentlemen, here’s a recovered Kris Kristofferson

Every day in every way, I’m getting better.

September 2, 2016

And so dear listener, to a certain effect, that’s true but it’s all relative.

The phrase has been attributed to a Frenchman called Emile Coue de la Chataignerale – a French psychologist and pharmacist – who introduced a popular method of psychotherapy and self-improvement based on optimistic autosuggestion (Wikipedia so it must be true).

Apparently he represented a second Nancy School…….which I first heard as a funny but politically incorrect gag on Allo Allo when Renee talked about his non-existent twin brother who came from the French town of Nancy so he, Renee, must also be a Nancy boy.😀😀😀

Which was much funnier than anything I heard in the first two minutes of the reconstituted Are You Being Served before I switched the TV off. Mrs Slocombe’s pussy gags were never funny but I have found a link to Steve Martin’s pussy gag and I’ll put it up soon (“ooooh, listen to me …what am I like….put it up soon…well Mr Grace, did you ever…but it was probably a long time ago”)

So, yes, I’m still off work but slowly putting things into context and piles – both physical and metaphorical (and not as I said to my sister ….metaphysical) but I’m also doing the things that stereotypically depressed people are supposed to do, but yes, I feel more anxious than depressed.

A wee example, if I may. Two weeks ago, the binmen did not empty my blue bin and mine was the only one in the cul-de-sac they missed.  That had me worried -had I offended in some way? – but earlier this week they came and lifted it and that’s fine. But it was a serious concern.

And I keep looking at my tyres, thinking they’re going flat…..

And I went to withdraw money from my Paypal account and OMG! THERE WAS NO PADLOCK IN THE ADDRESS!!!!!!! But the HTTP address thing was fine so I entered my password and carried out the transaction but it didn’t stop me going to the nearest ATM at about seven o’clock for the next two mornings.

And I know someone else who uses exclamation marks a lot, but I think it’s an endearing characteristic!!!!!!!!!

But I have cleared out the two drawers that contained cable and microphones and Scart cables which had been annoying me for some time and I have this  Inukshuck tea tin with tickets for Alabama 3 later in the year which I keep moving about the house to see where it looks best…’s from Canada – where the big sky comes from – which has given me my latest idea and I’ve bought a new camera solely for the purpose of seeing if the idea will work and I’ve now got it working. It’s just that I’m a wee bit wary of inserting memory cards and USB sticks at the moment. No. No reason.😦

(At which point, Mr Humphries (?) walks in and says, ‘Need help inserting your stick? Leave that up to me.’)

The bees’ backpacker hostel remains empty but I am grateful to a listener, recently retired Susan from Beesden, who sent me a photo of her bees’ backpacker hostel (which looks slightly different from mine) with some interest being shown by a bee – but the big difference is that there is a sign saying this is Susan’s bee house – all bees are welcome.  J, you have an artistic bent. I may send you the materials for a much better sign.

But can I say a big thanks to R from Cardross, Ann from Prostate Cancer HQ, e and my now two year old grand-daughter (who actually does have a name and now a toy drill but chooses to remain anonymous) for getting me out of the house…..and, yes, of course I have male friends, which I think I said before is one of the most common questions I’m asked.

The answer to the other is, ‘No. I don’t.’😉

And I remember what I said last week about what I was reading. Well, I am currently reading a book called The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and it’s a lovely read. Now which member of the Book Club will get it when I’m finished?

And finally I’m doing a lot of walking….some of it back in the graveyard where I pounded all those miles all those years ago as part of a previous recovery. And I have the blister to prove it. It’s not a bad place to walk. You get a great view of North Glasgow including Possil Marshes which are an SSSI and, one year, were the source of a swan which stopped my train from leaving Summerston Railway Station. There was some form of Royal Prerogative which meant we had to get the Queen to move her. Luckily, she was in Poundstretcher down the road at the time so we weren’t held up for long.
Cya, still wearing that badge (altho’ it fell off twice this week) and maybe I’d forgotten how to keep it simple.🙂

Johnt850, and my lawyer’s male and a friend.

And can I just say a brief thank you to all those who’ve offered help in various forms – even from a great distance?

‘How are you feeling?’ is an amazing question. …or saying, ‘I hope things are fine with you.’

But an even bigger thanks to the three (I think) good-looking women who have managed to lure me into West End restaurants this year and introduced me to the wonderful world of (non-alcoholic) desserts.

This is another good looking woman from the wonderful world of country……this is Carrie Underwood. Call it spiritual, if you have to call it anything.


You can eat an elephant, but it has to be done one piece at a time (A friend being helpful)

August 25, 2016

And so dear listener, I start with many thanks to those of you who found, through the blog or social media or cos I told you, that I am off work with anxiety and depression – altho’ I think I’m more anxious than depressed but they’re both there – and it was nice to get offers to meet up from so many people that I know but it has become a wee bit of a balancing process……and my decision making is a wee bit slow.😦 or🙂

It’s been some time since I’ve had to try and fit people in quite so much but I will do it. I have the time and it’s been one of the instructions from the doctor. And I must confess to a certain physical tiredness at times but I put some of that down to erratic sleeping habits. There are still ‘to do’ lists in my head even if they are a wee bit shorter than before. And I’ll say nothing more than that just now – but thanks again for good wishes.🙂

(There is more I’d like to say about my state of health and stuff but I genuinely have no idea who reads this and I want to avoid putting myself (and maybe others) in an awkward position but one of the symptoms is that, whilst I want to read, I can’t read books with complicated storylines – like the Crayons That Went on Strike to give it its wrong title)

But I did surprise myself physically the other day – driving through Hyndland – when I saw someone I’d not seen for some time. A guy called George, whom I got to know through my cancer treatment days, but whereas I have fully (as far as I am aware) recovered, George has had what seems like millions of complications and bits of other cancers floating about and continual testing. I had tried to make contact but somewhere that attempt had got lost.

Anyway, I saw him and threw the car into what loosely could be called a parking space and got out locking the car behind me and ran (!) like one of those runs you see fit policepeople do on TV when they see the gangster – including across the road and waving at cars to stop, almost leaping over a small wall and turning round the corner at speed and caught up with him.

He’s fine – thanks for asking – and he’s another cup of coffee for the list.

And, most importantly of all, I wasn’t out of breath when I spoke to him.

But Hyndland is a very douce place. I was taking counsel from e and Holly the Dog and we walked past a charity shop when someone went in and bought a top (as in kinda blouse kinda thing) as displayed by one of the mannekins, as I would describe them, leaving her naked from the waist up (the mannekin, not the…..). Within seconds, another assistant had gone to a rail of similar kinda blouse kinda things and got one to cover the mannekin’s embarrassment. Oh, how Holly and I laughed.😀😀😀

And I have decided to learn Gaelic at evening classes (I’ve still to enrol but I will) and I’ve told a few folk and there are reasons and part of it comes from the Gaelic Sports Day where I tuckshopped and they seemed a good crowd and the listing for the class seems quite fun. I’m beginning to tell folk so it will happen.🙂

Indeed, someone gave me some books and I’m not saying they’re old but Chapter Sixteen is about going to the disco. Em, disco, since you ask.

And I will say nothing about the Olympics other than I cannot believe how little attention was paid to anyone other than the Brits; how the medals table dominated, yet anyone getting to, say, an Olympics final had achieved something phenomenal; and how Team GB is an incredibly false marketing concept……. That’s probably enough because it did take everyone’s mind off the real issues like homelessness and poverty and war and armed French police telling women how they can dress.

Still, now that it’s over, maybe television will start telling us about these things again – without any distraction.

‘What’s that, Skippy, the Great British Bake Off’s just about to start. I’ll be through in a minute.’

Actually that’s a wee device to make a point with some humour. I didn’t watch Bake Off with all its innuendoes. I watched a programme called Great Canal Journeys with Timothy West and Prunella Scales….she of Faulty Towers fame and he of Eastenders but with pretend prostate cancer fame. Only in real life, Prunella has dementia and this is an amazing view of her and his life in a touching and romantic way, without it ever sounding maudlin. There is humour and pathos – and real life……

Cya, and still wearing that badge cos it gave me that idea and still keeping it simple with simple ideas.

Johnt850, not quite Usuain (sp) Bolt with all his lady friends but pleasantly surprised by my cool running.

And one final word on the Anxiety/Depression thing. A couple of people said things like ‘I’m sorry to hear that.’

No I’ve done something positive – nothing that people should worry about. I’m not getting taken away in a strait jacket nor am I stereotypically refusing to leave my house or my bed.

I have seen people close to me suffering from such things…….and of course, I’ve done courses. I heard an alarm bell ring and I did something. It may mean that that bell never goes again and I hope so but if I’d ignored it, then who knows…….

I promised someone I’d play this. Thankfully it’s a version by Three Dog Night and I firmly believe those hairstyles will come back but not for me – not with the number of times I go to my hairdresser!

I never did learn how to follow the rules I never was good at sleeping while the moon was full (Brandi Carlile)

August 19, 2016

And so, dear listener, this could be a tricky blog to write. Earlier this week, I was signed off for four weeks with ‘anxiety and depression’.

Now, I don’t want to say too much about possible causes and symptoms as basically I’m under doctor’s orders to clear my head and get some rest before making any decisions. There is, I feel, a lot to do in that particular clearing procedure and I’d rather not comment publicly – but a head full of mince is not a good feeling when you’re pescatarian.

But the actual process is interesting – the coming to a decision that crying over a keyboard is not a good thing. There’s lots of things happening in lots of places and I could feel various pressures but you can put these things down to various issues.

However, it came to a head last weekend. I did not feel in control and treated someone badly. Other things were going through my head.

I worked a nightshift and that was fine but other things were still happening in my head on Monday. I know. It’s all very non-specific but I’m afraid at this stage it has to be – for all sorts of reasons.

So, I gave it some thought and felt at the very least, I had to talk to someone. A doctor would be good.

My surgery is based in the Maryhill Health Centre which is about to close and be replaced by an all new, all-singing and dancing Centre just along the road but I do hope they don’t change the appointments system. It’s one of those where you phone up at 0830 and ask.

So, I did, and I got a ten o’clock appointment on Tuesday with Dr F – a lady doctor who has been involved in many of my most important life – threatening decisions. It was F who, almost ten years ago, told me I had too much alcohol in my bloodstream and to cut back slowly and then they would be in a better position to help.

“Whatever, you do, don’t cold turkey!” And it wasn’t her fault that I did, but that may have saved my life – in many ways. It was F who, several months later, told me that it was worth going to Gartnavel Hospital to get some tests carried out – which led to my cancer being discovered.

And it was F who, after my cancer had been confirmed at Gartnavel, brought me in for a two o’clock appointment which lasted thirty minutes to talk the diagnosis over – and you should have seen the daggers of looks that were directed towards me by her 2.10, 2.20 and 2.30 appointments.

So we had a chat and the upshot was that I have been signed off and I have no intention of thinking about a return to work for a few days yet. There are people to talk to. And I will.

So that was the process and I’m glad I did it.

I’m also currently saying no to editing academic essays but I did finish off a couple I’d started cos that’s fair – and I believe in fairness, responsibility and integrity but I do worry about those to whom I’ve said no.

So I’ve contacted a few people and almost all of then replied with ‘do you want to talk about it? I’m here if you need me’, which was so lovely – cos I know some of them have problems of their own and job interviews and all sorts of stuff but they seem to care…..which is good.

So I’m doing the fresh air thing and a big thanks to Holly the Dog (and e) for being the first to get me out – a letter needed posted or something similar and as I write this, others are making arrangements.

I was never ever in any danger of falling over the edge but I was aware of where the edge was on the mental Sat Nav  (and that does sound a bit convoluted but at least I’m avoiding U2 gags) and I felt well enough yesterday to make a relatively big financial decision without breaking into a cold sweat and if I want to eat a Waitrose Chilli and Prawn Pizza for lunch with the rest for tea I can and, j, I told the neighbours that the reason I was going into the back garden at 3 in the morning was to see if any bee backpackers had slipped into the bee backpacker’s hostel. (Actually, that doesn’t sound too normal, either, does it?)

There is no shame in what is happening/has happened to me. I will keep you posted.

Johnt850, still wearing the BigSky badge but we reckons that if I do carry out my photographic exhibition idea, then I should do it early morning or I’ll get knocked over.

Now, in the last couple of weeks I mentioned music that meant a lot to me, particularly if I was feeling down – Walk the Moon, Alabama3 and the Free Electric Band guy – but I also mentioned this…..Thanks for listening and I’m fine, thanks. Thanks for asking.

I saw the crescent; you saw the whole of the moon (Mike Scott)

August 11, 2016

And so dear listener, for me there is more or less only one story in town but it spins off in more ways than a human centipede has legs (and that was possibly the most grotesque movie I have ever seen and I was distressed to learn the other day that it has a sequel…..yeugh).😦

What happened on Monday night was that e and I went to see the Waterboys at the Kelvingrove Bandstand in the leafy West End of Glasgow and it was dead good. She and I have a wee tradition of going every year and this year we started off with a cup of coffee in Nardinis in Byres Road.🙂

It’s a way of not getting there too soon as I suffer quite often from the syndrome known as Premature Arrival and although some may see it as a family trait, I see it from the days when  I produced live radio programmes and I strained at the leash to get into the studio to get set up. Even on daily shows, that feeling never went away.

And can I think the lovely Lauren, daughter of @soulboydaviebee for showing us to our concrete bench and I had brought cushions.

Anyway, the Waterboys were absolutely amazing and they played Peace of Iona and they played Glastonbury Song and they played Roll over Beethoven and they played Raggle Taggle Gypsies O and they played Fisherman’s Blues and they played Whole of the Moon and they took a bow and they walked off but the roadie didn’t. Always a clue. And they came back and they did Purple Rain and that’s what I will finish tonight’s show with – the version recorded in the Chris Evans Radio 2 studio.🙂

And I know there are people who will be amazed at the number of people squashed into the studio but you can do anything in a radio studio. Yes. Even that. I’m told. But make sure every mic is switched off.😉

I produced one show in which we did this live. It’s a form of dance known as Capoeira (have you ever danced it, j?) or at least that’s what the Brazilian slaves told their slave masters when, in actual fact. it was the slaves keeping their fighting in good trim for when they came to fighting for their freedom.

And at the Bandstand e and I sang and danced as did many others but we did it cos of what we were listening to and we had had no alcohol. Now I have nothing against bevvy – it just doesn’t work for me these days – but I do know that many of those considering giving up/cutting back on the bevvy worry that they will become boring.

Boring? You never ever talked to a drunken me discussing radio. Did you? I don’t think I can ever now be described as boring. Life is too amazing.😀😀

But I do know a few folk with things that are worrying them just now and I wish I could have brought them all to the gig in a charabanc. But some good news from some of them during the week.:)

Indeed, I have some issues, some of which are work related and so I can’t comment but I have brought in my union, the National Union of Journalists, to help and advise. And I am proud to be a member of the NUJ as I believe that to protect democracy and free speech we need the trade of journalism, which hopefully will never be replaced by those on Social Media who re-tweet and re-post without having even checked the validity and veracity of what they’re passing on.

Towards the end of All the President’s Men, there’s a scene where the Washington Post publisher tells Woodward and Bernstein to get ten sources to confirm the final part of the story before he’ll publish.

And as I was standing in the NUJ office in Glasgow, which it shares with equity, I could hear someone singing the Ballad of Joe Hill – in itself reassuring.

But we live in a society where facts are becoming irrelevant unless they can be broadly twisted to suit an ill-thought out opinion – Britain First, the Brexit Bus and Donald Trump.

But there’s a brilliant book called the Upper Pleasure Garden by Gordon M. Williams where the newspaper reporter hero was trapped in ‘the only job where they paid you a wage for finding men who built the Taj Mahal out of empty beer bottles.’🙂

I think the closest I came to that was the Potato Collector of Crieff who collected strains of potatoes that looked as if they were about to die as breeds (or whatever the right word is) of potatoes and he had this special jacket with millions of pockets in which he carried his potatoes and when he died, his wife took over the collecting.🙂

But it’s not all been doom and gloom. The amazing Jenny H has been and gone and got herself a lecturing job in Wales and I will miss her as talking to her always gave me an insight into how academia can be relevant to people’s lives. Fisherman’s Blues was well deserved even if she’d never heard of the band…….just a very small age gap…….

And thanks to j, I have an idea for a photographic exhibition, and e, somewhere in that busy schedule of yours, you may end up helping me with it and it comes out of the Big Sky badge.

So the template’s kinda gone tonight as it occasionally does – but for good reasons.

So, for me it’s a mixed bag of a week but whatever my stresses are, I have ten days in December 2006 in Ward 8A of Gartnavel Hospital to set them against; and my favest moment this week? When e gave me a tenner to go and pay for the coffees; the waitress couldn’t believe the size of the tip I gave her.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Waterboys, Chris Evans’s studio and Purple Rain.

‘We have gone past the place where facts and truth and experts matter. Nothing matters but ranting opinion.’ Nicoll 2016)

August 4, 2016

And in case you’re wondering what the headline is about, it’s about not believing everything you read on social media or on the side of a Brexit bus – except many people did, apart from the people who put it there.😦

And so dear listener, it was five years ago this week that SAAS, who pay student fees and stuff, agreed to pay my fees for my Post Grad in Alcohol and Drugs Studies at UWS (Paisley)and a whole new world opened up in front of me🙂 and continues so to do.

Some folk questioned what I was doing. If I had to return to Higher Education should I not do something different from drink’n’drugs? American Literature? But I thought, ‘this subject’s my destiny’ and it worked.😉

I’ve spoken often about the friends I made whilst there and those that I continue to see from both sides of the counter as well as the bandstand in Johnstone and (at one time) all the supermarkets in North Ayrshire and the time I disagreed openly with a lecturer only to be told, ‘You do know that if you openly disagree with a lecturer, they knock 10 per cent off your marks.’😦

That close to a ‘summa cum laude’, eh?

And it wasn’t just the uny. It was a brilliant placement at a Rehab in Easterhouse where I had one of the most emotional experiences of my life where I did a proper share where there was no table between me and the rest and there were questions and I finished the session realising that I had just told about twenty recovering heroin users things about my life that I could never tell family or friends.🙂

And some volunteering down Dumbarton/ Clydebank way where, on going to the local sauna with some of the guys, I was told, by a former user, ‘you do realise that everyone in Dumbarton now thinks you’re a former junkie, don’t you?’

To my current job, as a part-time (paid) night-worker with the homeless in Glasgow, which I enjoy – even when it gets a wee bit frontline……..that and the editing I do. Interesting times,eh?

And I did mention on Facebook when sharing a wee video about the new Kelvin Hall complex (part of Glasgow University’s attempt to take over the entire west end) that I had recorded my first ever single at the Carnival when it used to take place there. No-one picked me up on it.

There were booths, similar to telephone kiosks (ask your gran or grand-dad) where you could record your own song and get a souvenir (but playable) piece of plastic that you could bore your parents with. I was aged single figures but knew there was something about this song that was different – it was a song of protest but I didn’t understand its links to the labour movement. My folks liked the bit where I went ooooooo – oooooooooo.

This is a version by Peter, Paul and Mary, which it explains itself and I may have been aged single figures but there was something about Mary I didn’t quite understand but I liked.🙂

And finally, what did I learn from my uni-days? Well, I moved from describing myself as a ‘recovering alcoholic’ as I did on my first day to someone who just doesn’t drink and that was no big deal. All it required was an understanding of what was involved in an alcohol dependency, a planned change in behaviour and people who believed in me enough to see me through it until I got where I am today. ……today, where someone has just described me as having ‘integrity’…..if I did Facebook epithets, I’d say

Positive words mean a positive image

But I don’t.😀😀😀

Cya, still wearing the Big Sky badge as people asking about it takes the heat off me as well as keeping it simple.

Johnt850, and I’ll always remember the weird lasagne in Borgia’s which showed my new friends my pescatarian leanings and my ease in a pub.🙂

And one of the many things that I revealed during my uni-years was my hatred of 151 as exemplified by the recent router issue which led to a much more serious problem.😦

So on Thursday of this week I came downstairs (0720) and put the TV to find out more about the London stabbing and the screen read;

‘Do not switch off Set Box. The box is updating and should take a few minutes.’

An hour later I decided to phone 151 and got straight through to Kerry who told me to switch the box off, wait a minute (we talked of the weather, school holidays but she’s busy this Saturday night) and switch it back on………and it worked. ’It must have frozen’ I think she said, so I turned the storage heater on. It’ll be fine. As will I.

Last week I spoke of some music I play when I’m a wee bit uncertain about certain things, which I do share with some people, but I worry if I do that too much.😦

This was possibly the first ever song I would put into that bracket….Enjoy.




‘Maybe just not every week……..’

July 28, 2016

And so dear listener, last week’s blog seemed to strike a chord with many people and can I just say that the train to Ardrossan Harbour was a  kinda metaphor for what I’m talking about – altho’ if anyone wants to go there, I’m more than happy to go with them. It’s more about re-examining things I do and seeing them in a different light, like two of my favest places – Byres Road and Firhill Stadium – ‘the field of dreams’.🙂

And sometimes it’s seeing things you’ve become accustomed to through the eyes of someone else.😉

Take for example, Firhill – the home of the mighty Partick Thistle. Young AJ had spoken to his mum, e, about going to a football match and it had been decided that a home game against Queen of the South was the obvious choice. I was more than happy.😀😀😀

I won’t go into all the detail of the afternoon but there was a certain amount of explaining what was happening but not a lot. e has a coaching badge and AJ has seen it on TV and, whilst I was worried that boredom might set in by half-time, it didn’t. I liked the way that ‘our’ team kept the suspense going all the way through the game by leaving it at one-nil down before scoring the winning two goals in the last ten minutes……’we are Partick Thistle, we score when we want.’🙂

And we watched it from the Jackie Husband stand which gives a much better view than where I normally stand – in the North Stand (red’n’yellow) – and yes, I’d be happy to go back with e and AJ and, indeed, anyone else out there who’d like to take son or daughter to the first ever football match.

The downside? There’s not a lot of singing in the Family Section,😦 but I’ll live.

And then there’s  Byres Road which I used to know intimately but I still know it pretty well but a lady called R, from out of town, who I should stress I know, told me she was coming uptown and would have her young boys with her and would I like to join them for tea? To which I said ‘yes’ and I did.🙂

The younger was having his birthday the next day so I’m not sure whether this was part of the treat or not, but we ate burritos – and I wonder what the difference is between them and fajitas and we spoke of Casio watches.  So the next day, I went to the jeweller’s down Byres Road that sold it to me many, many years ago and priced exactly the same watch that I bought all that time ago. It is now £20 as opposed to the £9.99 I spent all those years ago and I can only accept Casio’s word for it that it’s water resistant to 50 metres. I don’t swim.😦

But I was down Byres Road the next night with the blogmeister and we drank in Vodka Wodka – which I like. My appreciation of it was enhanced by the barmaid who, having poured my orange juice, put a straw in and took a sip. ‘That’s not right,’ she said and poured it out.

She opened another carton and gave me a fresh glass. Now, that’s what I call service.😀

The conversation ranged far and wide but at one point touched upon a man called Billy Graham – an evangelist – who held meetings at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow which attracted thousands in the fifties and sixties. This was in the early days of television. There was no internet – no tweeting nor nothing like that. So how did he do it? Radio, and word of mouth.

Billy himself just trusted the word of God and spoke it like it was and it worked.

And finally, I bumped into former Divinity student and would be writer and former student of mine of so many years ago, Cathcart minor, who was clutching a decorated, 18 inch long, shoe horn (and I think Carry On movies have been made on less of a plot device). Basically, it was an interesting chat, but James, I have seen you move from boy to man over many, many years, but that beard…..maybe one day.😉

Good luck with the writing and, as ever, if I can help……….

Cya, still wearing the Big Sky badge and continuing to keep it simple

Johnt850, broadcasting to you all and at the same time I’m talking to a student who is asking me things he or she should have asked his/her tutor months ago.

So when I was in Vodka Wodka I paused to look at the booze in the gantry and I don’t miss it but am intrigued at the range of alcohol available. When Billy was preaching, pubs were smoky places with a limited range of ale and whiskies and that was the scene when I started my drinking at the age of 16/17 but it is coming up to ten years since I cold turkeyed.

The blogmeister remembered the bit of the story of that night where I believe that I fought the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (an hallucination or not?) wearing only a freebie sweatshirt from the movie, Interview with a Vampire, and how I remained convinced that one of the horsemen was now a demon who lived in that sweatshirt. Obviously, I don’t now but I don’t dare throw it out. Wonder what Billy G would make of it all.

It’s a few months since J, my favest country music fan, introduced me to Brandi Carlile. I have a few songs which are part of my listening when I’m a bit down. Lots of Alabama 3, Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Green Day), Hey, You Come On and Dance (Walk the Moon) – all lift me up when I’m down….so does this😀😀😉

Brandi and Hard Way Home. Inspiration in a CD. No. No reason.

Sometimes you dance with a partner and sometimes you dance alone. But the important thing is to keep dancing (Jack Canfield)

July 22, 2016

And so dear listener, I don’t know about you but I enjoyed writing last week’s blog and I hope you enjoyed reading it. I enjoyed being somewhere  new (at least as far as the blog was concerned) and I felt fresher and we shall ignore anything untoward that may have happened during my visit.😦

 I’ve spoken quite a lot about libraries in recent months- for a number of reasons – but the Mitchell has always played a big part in my life. I think I mentioned that it was once a source of money for me in my early broadcasting days when I supplied the ‘And in this week ten/twenty/thirty years ago….’ feature for Jimmy Mack’s Old Golds. The research for that was done in the big room of the Library where I had to put in a written request for the vast tomes that were the Daily Record or the Daily Express for 1959 or whatever and spot the gem.

That was xx years ago and it wasn’t that long ago that I was putting in written requests for Inter Library Loans at UWS (Paisley) Library only to be told in a very nice and gentle manner (thanks J and colleagues) that these things already existed in Paisley – they were on the computer.😉

And then when I started to be a serious researcher, there was the joy of the micro-fiche. Where did all these micro-fiche fish go?

Ah, the joy of keeping it simple.🙂

Cos it’s been a horrible week – primarily cos of the router/modem issue and the waiting in on both Tuesday (I was given the wrong day) and Wednesday before it (and the television box) arrived followed swiftly by a man called Tommy who put it all together for me and I was back hacking into NASA and GCHQ (ish). I feel as if I’ve been stuck in my house for an eternity.😦

(And the Mitchell has/had the Glasgow Room where many years ago I was able to purchase copies of GPO maps (ten/twenty/thirty years apart) of that part of Kelvindale where we had bought a house. I wonder what happened to them?)

So big thanks to e for getting me out of my house and a trip to the Lighthouse. There used to be a lighthouse near where I was brought up in Peterhead called Buchan Ness and if you ever asked my mum about it, she would tell you, as mothers do, about the time when I was two and we were having a family picnic in the area around the lighthouse when I fell into a pond and she had to buy fresh clothes for me.

She would have hated it many years later when me and my then accountant were staying with some friends in Carradale and me and a mate went to pull in  small boat to go for a wee trip when my wellingtons slipped and I slid into Carradale harbour. Your life does not flash in front of you but your face goes helluva red. And just to add to it, a few days later I was on a fishing boat for some overnight keeling and hauling and I heard the skipper say on the radio to another skipper (cos you work in pairs), ‘you’ll never guess who I’ve got on board. Aye. The Glasgow boy who fell in the water and near drowned.’

No. I can’t swim. Why do you ask?

Anyway  e got me out of the house just hours before a shift by inviting me to go with her to an exhibition of photographs of old and falling apart houses in the Western Isles taken by the former drummer of the Buzzcocks, John Maher, which was quite fun and was about their renovation……..and promoted a thought. Maybe I should take the blog on the road over the next wee while where possible.

Y’see when I was at Paisley Uny (and I did more than talk to library people) I quite often took the train to Paisley (at least in the early days before I discovered the multi-storey car park) and the front of the train said Ardrossan Harbour and occasionally I felt like being a real rebel and just staying on to there and just paying the difference.  😀

Incidentally, I have to admire e’s Sherlock type skills. Noticing that, in one of the pictures, there was a ladle hanging by the fire and it had an inscription, she leaned in to read it. Out Loud. Slowly.

‘You’re. Never. Too. Old. To. Spoon.’ We moved swiftly on.

So I’m not too sure where that leaves me. I might be going to Embra this week and I might be going to Larbert. There’s tickets booked for a couple of gigs at the Kelvingrove Bandstand in  about three weeks time and there’s nothing to stop me getting up one morning and just going. Somewhere. Taking the blog on the road. Let’s just see.🙂

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


But there was one scary side to the week. I got really infuriated at the waiting. And ten years or more ago, I would have dealt with it by drinking alcohol to settle me and that’s what my alcohol dependency was –a behaviour where alcohol played its part cos it was an easy fix. And then I discovered that the best way of coping was to slam a set of headphones on and go for a walk, but you can’t do that when you’re waiting. So I made soup. Or at least a stock for a soup……..and I calmed down.

It may be a strange coping mechanism but it works.

This is the Buzzcocks’ most famous ever single or, to put it another way, I couldn’t find a Youtube for ‘Orgasm Addiction’…….You’ll know this one, so please feel free to sing along….