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….


If you take your foot off the accelerator, then the pedal goes back goes back to where it was. (Theresa May)

July 16, 2016

And so dear listener, last week, when I was wandering down memory lane and talking of coffee shops, I promised you that this week would be a wander down the road of drink, drugs, sex, rock and roll and cancer…and it would have been. But I’ve had problems – server problems – and somewhere along the way my very original and witty draft blog has been eradicated. Don’t ask.

So I’m sitting here in a window seat of the Herald Café in the Mitchell Library on an awkward stool looking out over the row of parked cars and the Avalon Bar and I’m quite happy; and I think the drink, drugs, sex, etc, will have to wait until next week.

And my roll and fried egg and potato scone has just been delivered.  :)

This may be shorter than usual (and Skippy that’s not an innuendo) but it’s nice to have access to a working PC and I’m catching up on a lot of stuff. The library staff have been tremendously helpful cos it’s a wee bit more than just getting a wi-fi code but not much more and I have a coffee and a glass of water and Google and I’m happy. Because of the problems I may have drafted too soon.🙂

I just don’t have online access at home but can do other stuff on a stick and bring it in. I just need to be a wee bit more careful with the stick, but I feel like a real writer at the moment so don’t spoil it.

Yes, I use Facebook and mail a lot but I have come to rely on the PC as a source of information. When J asked a couple of weeks ago for a suggestion for a football DVD for a grandson, I came home, went on to Amazon, saw 250 Greatest Goals and sent her the link….he loved it. The DVD – not the link.

Thankfully he seems to be unaware that I am a Partick Thistle supporter and do things like drive my pals to Airdrie on a wet Friday night to see a one-nil victory in the Right Said Fred League Cup and that was an inspired decision Davie B to turn left out of the car park. Shame about the motorway being closed.😦

But e and AJ may be about to come to Firhill – the home of dreams – quite soon and I hope it’s a good game and, indeed, if anyone else wants to take a child to a very family-friendly environment for their first ever game, let me know. And just ignore what Tory Andrea Loathsome says about men and children.

(And a member of the library staff has just walked past and asked if everything is okay. Well, the egg was a bit runny but I don’t think that’s the usual library remit. Certainly it never happened in UWS Paisley but one summer I was allowed to drink my Lucozade until the ‘students’ started again and then I had to obey the rules and drink water)

And a pressie for my grand-daughter’s birthday was delivered the other day. I won’t tell you what it is in case you’re talking to her but again it was ordered online and I got a text saying delivery was underway and when I got home there was a card shoved through the letterbox saying it was in the shed. Surely not? I keep my shed locked. Buy my padlock is from Woolworths. Remember them?

I assume he carries a set of basic keys and just uses them. I may need to be in on Tuesday for the delivery of my new modem/router and television box. I’m told it’s easy to install; I may seek help.

But even finding the phone number for the Mitchell proved tricky as I looked in a now redundant book called Yellow Pages. There is no listing. I have a Blackberry. I Googled it.

And finally, I went to the Homeless World Cup during the week in George Square (as did other Partick Thistle fans such as Alan, Andrew and Bean (believe it or not that’s his nickname and not his birthname – I think) and it was brilliant. I saw Chile trounce Germany six-nil in a well fought match and as ever, homeless Scotland (male and female) did us proud. Shame the Queen Street refurbishment and the subway refurbishment is on just now as there was no casual traffic passing through George Square……..

And I think that’ll do me this week.

Cya, still wearing the Big Sky badge and still being asked what it means but always keeping it simple.

Johnt850, relieved that, hopefully, I will be back online next week, but I will need to come back here before then and will be happy so to do.

The 15th was Linda Rondtadt’s birthday. This is she.


“If you’re good at it, and you love it, and it helps you navigate the river of the world, then it can’t be wrong.” (passed on by Jacqui Low Partick Thistle director)

July 8, 2016

And so dear listener, firstly can I pass on my thanks to all those who passed on good messages on my birthday last week and, yes, I don’t look my age. It’s not cos I work out, cos I don’t, and I still have an inch or so to lose around my waist that I’m doing nothing about.😦  At university, one of my nicknames was ‘Baby John’ and I’m not sure how I’d have got on in this world of IDing people who look under 25 and I know some folk don’t think this is the case (cos they’ve known me as I’ve grown up or since uny and don’t see the difference) but trust me I do.

(I don’t always feel it tho’ and there’s a driving licence that shows just how bad, physically, I’d got at one stage but some planned and unplanned lifestyle changes brought me back home)🙂

But it’s been a week of taking stock and reminiscing (sp) and it’s great news, for example, that the Vampire Slayer is coming back to this country later this year and is already talking about meeting up.🙂  I enjoy meeting people but learned years ago the benefits of using mail and Facebook just to keep in touch but it ain’t the same………

This should not be seen as a dig against anyone (particularly if we’ve met within the last twelve months or you work in the East End and our last meeting was in Frankie and Johnny’s in Easterhouse and my diary will always be flexible) but is a true reflection of my circumstances……I have plans.

So it was nice to meet up with a female friend on Monday night that I hadn’t met for a wee while and we did so in one of those places that have become so much a part of my life in recent years – a coffee bar. This was one called Tinderbox in Byres Road and it stays open until about 11. Nardini’s up the road stays open ‘til about 10 and there are others.

I think this is brilliant and am happy with being in places like this. How do they make money? I never ever feel under pressure to drink up. I’m surprised no-one ever gets locked in upstairs in Starbucks, next to the currently closed Underground, when it closes at (I think) 7.30 and there’s a place in Paisley where I occasionally have a leisurely (?) coffee with a good friend where once I remember it was a beef eating type of place with pints of lager and cuts of meat and other stuff I don’t do now but I won’t name it…..just in case it gets busy.🙂

But yet, one of my first memories of Glasgow is of a coffee bar.

We would come down from Peterhead to Glasgow on holiday and altho’ we had relations here, we didn’t stay with them. Rather than choose between anyone we stayed in hotels at the Kelvinbridge end of town but we used to go to a coffee bar in between Queen Street Railway Station and Buchanan Street Railway Station called the Moka Bar. I would have a processed cheese slice in between two slices of processed white bread with a Coca Cola in a bottle.

One day, famous footballer Jim Baxter was sitting there with another person who we did not recognise but I went and got both their autographs – the other was John Greig.

And still on a footballing theme, good luck to J and her punt on France for Euro16

Cya, still wearing that badge (the one with the big sky) and still keeping it simple

Johnt850, who promises we will return to the usual format of drink, drugs, sex, rock, roll and cancer next week.

And a quick word on one of the big stories of the week.

At the time I believed war in Iraq was wrong and I was working at the BBC at the time and am aware of much that was discussed then and did not believe it was necessary.

However, I did believe there were Weapons of Mass Destruction. Why? Because we had sold them to Iraq. It’s what we do. We have sold to both North and South Korea, for example, and that included TCPs which we are now much more familiar with as a component of terrorist bombs or something that can be turned into sarin nerve agent, or as a fertiliser used to grow better potatoes.

Or how about Marconi and Tripod Engineering selling stuff to Irag in the eighties under the guise of civilian contracts that were destined for military use?

Or………I can go on, but I won’t. There’s a Tory leadership candidate on the TV downstairs telling the world how great Britain is and I know things won’t change.

But one thing Chilcot does show is the lack of a game plan, a structure, an idea for what to do after the big event – hang on……that’s Brexit, isn’t it?😦

Last week’s musical choice was suggested by a grand-daughter (but not mine) and this is as well.

When I was younger, people like Robin Hall and Jimmie Macgregor (with both of whom I was privileged to work in later years) would sing this and we’d call it entertainment but I can’t find their version…..but please feel free to join in.

Then the order came down, dump everything and fix bayonets. You have got to fight for it today. (Private Walter Hutchison)

July 1, 2016

And so dear listener, I have just turned 62. Not bad, given that coming up for ten years ago, a friend of mine looked at me, lying comatose in a hospital bed, and gave me no chance of surviving the night……… but I did and survived much else a few months later.🙂

It made me the man I am today (which is not necessarily as other men my age) ………..I will say no more than that but I do enjoy life in many ways.😉

But the death of Caroline Aherene has hit home. My alcohol and cancer issues are, thankfully, well behind me.Hers never left her. I found dealing with the after effects of both at the same time the hardest thing to do. I will never forget my support team who were there for me (and the people who weren’t) and that is partly why this blog exists.

But my thanks to the many ways that people got best wishes  to me and my thanks to a co-worker who brought in buns which made a nightshift go very quickly.

But long term listeners will know that at one stage I talked of being 42 for ever (it’s an Alabama 3 thing) but various things that have happened in the last two years have made me adjust to being what I am (a private pension kicking in helped).

But I’d a great day on Monday (so maybe my birthday came early) and I went to bed that night looking forward to the next day, altho’ I’m always pleased to wake up. It’s a much under-rated pastime.🙂

Basically, there’s been the money thang with the TSB. I got a phone call from a man whom we’ll call TK who admits they’re in the wrong but is still uncertain what to do as he can’t understand what went wrong. But I am promised my money soon time with goodwill payments and refunded charges etc. TK is not a man to be argued with. I obvs checked out his Linkedin and Facebook profiles and the latest pic in his Facebook profile sees him with a very powerful chainsaw……TK is most definitely not a man to be argued with. Turns out he is the TSB’s Senior Customer Services Executive.

And finally, but not the usual ‘and finally’ but a Monday ‘and finally’, a very good friend, about whom I was slightly worried, phoned and I felt much better. No. No names. No pack drill.

I know I could fire up the Google but I always thought that if you gave the names, you would avoid the packdrill but what do I know?

And so, a final word on Brexit. It has been said that much of the voting was a protest against well educated people as people decided they were in charge and not the experts who actually do know what they’re talking about. However, this was kinda put in its place, and I pass this on without comment, by the number of people (some of whom I spoke to) who didn’t realise that by voting to leave they were actually voting to leave.

And my thanks to an Englishman living in New York – John Oliver – for pointing out that the second most Googled question last Friday morning was, ‘What is the EU?’

And finally,  Roy Hodgson, you did not have to be an expert to know that Iceland were pretty good with long throw-ins, but a lot less arrogance in your players might have helped as well.😉

And on the question of the Euros, J’s choice (France) has made better progress than mine (Spain) but there’s a long way to go, but I was intrigued by her question the other day,

‘jt, you know about Partick Thistle, but do you know anything about football?’ I think I know what was meant.🙂

Cya, still wearing that badge and happy to be keeping it simple

Johnt850, and as Anna Magnusson would say, Afram Island!!!!!

So, as many of you know J very kindly gave me a bee house as a gift for the garden but there’s been little happening in terms of bees using it.

So I went on Facebook for help and changed my profile picture to that bit of my garden fence which supports the house and various people got in touch.

Now J had said to me that it was not a hive but I was to think of it as a Bees’ B’n’B. Ah, said I down the phone, ‘a kind of Bees’ backpackers’ hostel.’ ‘Yes’, said she……… So I shared this notion on fb and I would like to thank Julie, with whom I used to play hockey and who has more international contacts than even you, Rainforestriverman, for progressing this metaphor with a lovely word picture of ‘tiny bees with tiny rucksacks strumming tiny guitars and eating tiny pot noodles.’😀

Later the next day, I walked past the Blue Sky Backpackers’ Hostel in Berkeley Street and smiled. It still doesn’t stop me, listeners, from standing at the kitchen door window, shouting, ‘Where are you bees? Where are you?’ My next door neighbours gave up on me long time ago.

And tonight’s closing piece of music has been played many times before, but I was told recently that someone else’s grand-daughter really liked it, so I am under instruction here….

In the beginning God said Let There be Grammar: and there was Grammar! And then there was Grammar issues, and they was bad.

June 24, 2016

And so dear listener, today’s show reveals two sides of my complex life; on the one hand, I’d a brilliant day with people most of whom I’d never met before, but on the other a bank with whom I’ve banked since I was born and for whom my father worked, thinks it’s okay to take £566.87 off me, erroneously as it admits, but has no way of giving me that money back….…as I write.😦

But the two events are linked. Tenuously.

Read on.

As many of you know last Saturday was a Gaelic Sports Day in Pollok Park and it was dead good. I had been given the task of running the tuck shop and took to it like I was destined to be a shopkeeper. I even had my own catchphrase to anyone complaining about prices (in English)😉

‘You’re in the middle of Pollok Park, no’ Pollok Shopping Centre!’

Incidentally, does Pollok still have a shopping centre or have Braehead and Silverburn made it redundant?

Anyway back at Fèis Spòrs Ghlaschu, to give the day its proper name. Everyone was brilliant and one small moment early on summarised the feelgood factor, or rather the sun tan lotion factor…..the blogmeister and his J and family had turned up cos their son, from Airdrie, was playing shinty but somehow the suntan lotion had not made the same journey. Suzy, who started off the tuckshop with me, said, ‘I’ve got some in the car.’ and went and got it and we spread it all over. What can you say?😀

There was a Tug of War and c had brought his special Tug of War shoes; there was Zumba, j, which satisfied my curiosity as to what actually happened in that form of dancing; there was shinty, face painting, home baking, Scottish Country Dancing, a 1k run for under tens or similar and my own particular favourite……gridlock on the Maryhill Road going home – altho’ tbh, I don’t think it was connected.😦

All in all a good day and I am giving serious thought to learning Gaelic as next year’s evening class.🙂

And my thanks to e for getting me involved.

Indeed the connection with e continued into the next week.

You may remember TSB Fraser from last week who I thought was going to be helpful in finding my £566.87? Well I was down again on the Monday after two hours’ sleep and he thought Graham, the Customer Services Manager, would be looking after it. Well he wasn’t.

E and I had decided to do a bank crawl up Byres Road (ah, the days of the Pub Crawl have long since gone but I’ll turn to the Rainforestriverman in a second) and we started off in the Bank of Scotland where they have one of those machines that you can pay cheques into and we ended up in the Royal Bank of Scotland where they don’t have cash bags but instead they have a machine like the Coin Star you get in supermarkets but without giving up 17.5% to charity.

In between, we went into the TSB where Graham had taken the day off and Fraser had nipped out for chocolate biscuits but none for me and e and no news on the money front.

A letter has gone to the Chief Executive…….🙂


The Rainforestriverman has just stood down from Glasgow University Court and he and I were to meet down Byres Road after he’d had a farewell dinner of Porterhouse Blue proportions, but it was cancelled after he’d seen the size of the stilton.

I left Glasgow Metropolitan College to concentrate on recovery – and those small minds that wished me ill. My own going away (me and Mike Gower)  – cranberry juice and paper plates full of crisps – was sooooooo overwhelming that me and some others went to the nearest pub (Printworks?) and I set about some serious Virgin Mary drinking.🙂🙂🙂

And finally, J’s money (eh?) looks good with the home team of France but my own choice of Spain are making it hard for themselves. They remind me so much of my own team Partick Thistle in that they play a lovely passing game and then get beat 2 – 1…….but they’re still in with a shout.

Cya, still wearing the badge and keeping it simple can be quite reassuring at times. For all concerned.🙂

Johnt850, with my birthday in a few days’ time but the more significant date is in December.

And so one of the main reasons for the existence of this show was to talk about Prostate Cancer and my own successful treatment.  I had radiotherapy rather than surgery for a number of reasons and, without going into any detail, am glad I did.🙂

At one point, Andrew Lloyd Webber was about to have prostate cancer treatment and was ‘worried about losing his sexual urge’ so the Daily Record contacted the Scottish end of Prostate Cancer UK and after getting the official line asked the PR, big Al, for someone who hadn’t lost anything. They got me.

I can’t remember the headline (well I can but I don’t like to boast) but having explained to the reporter, Catherine Devanney, the whole procedure, I was asked, ‘At any point did a warning bell go that there was something seriously wrong?’

‘Well’, I replied, ‘when the nurse stuck her finger up my bum, I had a passing sensation that all was not right.’

I mention all that cos I’m fine and ‘everything is in working order’ but I still meet, am put in contact with or hear about men with worries about diagnosis and treatment and in a week when it’s suggested that prostate cancer time could be nearly halved with higher doses of radiotherapy – thus halving the 37 sessions I had – I think it’s important to stress that treatment works in most cases, but the longer you choose to ignore going for a pee so often during the night, then the more chance there is that the treatment won’t work.

I was seeing my GP on a monthly basis after my alcoholic breakdown – but not everyone can be that lucky.

And tonight’s music is basically for anyone who likes bees and may need some cheering up. It’s Matt McGinn from a time before videos of people’s music existed. Enjoy.


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