Il avait un nom : Aylan Kurdi. (various)

September 4, 2015

And so, dear listener, I was talking to a refugee that I used to work with and who told me a wee bit more of his story. He told me of attending a political meeting in a country in Africa where things the Government did not like were being discussed. He was thrown in prison and after thirty five days his uncle raised enough money to pay the police to let him go (and I don’t think we’re talking ‘pay a fine or face Community Payback’ here). And he made it to this country. And he’s doing okay.

What about his friends? They had not been so lucky. They had no uncle like his. How was his uncle? He had not heard from him for a long time.

And I can’t have been the only one who shivered when I heard that the Christian Hungarian Prime Minister said that there were too many Muslim refugees. And put them on a train. To a camp.

Many migrants are refugees who are seeking refuge and they want to work – to raise money to bring the rest of their family over and then maybe go back to the country that they still love. It ain’t the benefits they come for: a benefits system where, according to the Government’s own figures, 2,380 people died within six weeks of being found ‘fit to work’ between December 2011 and February 2014. I accept that no causal effect can be assumed from these new numbers but why, then, did the so-called IDS initially deny their existence to Parliament?

We used to be such a caring nation. What happened? What f*cking happened? It would be too easy to blame the greed of Tories like Thatcher, Major, Brown, Blair and Cameron……..No. I don’t know what happened. Until one photo of a dead wean appears on our front pages. There have been so many others.

Skippy, do me a favour and scrap this stuff. I’ll be back in a minute or so but I won’t use any of it…….

And so, dear listener, what a great week it’s been. I went back to that dentist I was talking about and not only did he fix my troublesome filling, but he had a really magical chart of my mouth up on his computer screen when I went in and suddenly my faith in being with a dentist was restored. :)

Previously I was beginning to feel my dentist was part-time within the Peppermint Beauty Studios. :(

And I was talking children’s books with J, the blog’s favest philosopher, and I couldn’t help but notice in another publication that Captain Bigglesworth (or Biggles to his ‘close’ friends, Algy and Ginger. Bromance? What bromance?) suffered from such frayed nerves that he downed half a bottle of whisky for Dutch courage before take off. (He was a pilot, in case you were wondering) I’d long suspected that he was not the most politically correct of all my heroes, but he seems to have been a risk to his colleagues as well. Wonder if I was ever a danger to mine?

And then there’s telephones. Yes. I still have a landline and it’s mostly for family and cold calls. But it died on me. And it’s not the batteries or it might be them but anyway I decided to get a new one. I contacted the rainforestriverman’s old emporium and it was with me within hours and I charged it and plugged it in and spoke to people. But yet… you know, dear listener, that voicemail is not yet a standard issue in phones. Or maybe no-one’s leaving me messages. :(

But (rather than ‘and’) there are peppers and tomatoes growing in my new porch (or is it an Audi?) but I don’t think there is a dinner party ahead of me. There has not been enough sun. Sometimes we need more than the big sky – we need the sun. :)

And it was with great delight that I posted these words on Friday afternoon on Facebook;

‘And so, after a ten hours night shift with the homeless, including refugees, and two hours sleep, I have finally finished August’s editing and there’s an Out of Hours up on my e-mail advising that I am out of my editing office until 19th September which I hope was read by the twunt (I got that word from Becky Garrett) who asked me how long it would take to check his PhD of 75,000 words for grammar as he only had a couple of days…..’

And finally, it says a lot about the supermarket queue I was in on Friday when the old lady in front of me was complaining about the old lady in front of her. And No. I will never grow old. Not when there are so many disappointments in my life. It must get better one day.

Cya, still wearing that badge and keeping it simple – it’s more straightforward that way.

Johnt850, about to go into a very short period of peace and quiet.

So I still haven’t made my mind up about being a zombie again this year; to be honest the workload of the last five to six weeks has led to me not thinking about much anyway – and there are good memories (the old grit in the eye moment) – but the Zombie end of run rave was good and so was Zoe’s 18th. :)

We danced. :)

We did the Time Warp. Again. :)

We did the Locomotion. :)

And we twisted :)

But we didn’t line dance (I don’t think the conga line counted) :(

Now if you’re in line-dancing mood beware because the BPM for the final track is pretty fast – strong legs are required. (No. I really don’t know what I’m talking about, do I?) It’s the Dixie Chicks who stood side by side with Steve Earle against the second Iraq War and were ostracised by the American media.

‘Tonight the heartache’s on me’ is the name of the song – and the title of my forthcoming autobiography:

‘Oh magic hour when a child first knows she can read printed words’ (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)

August 28, 2015

And so dear listener, I hadn’t quite realised how hard I find it to say No – which is different from being easily influenced (but for good reasons these days). I have explained that this month has been incredibly busy on the editing/proof-reading front but I hadn’t realised how much it had taken over until I was contacted by someone, for whom I had done some work previously, who wanted me to look at 14,000 words.

‘Yes’, I said, ‘I can do that next week and you should allow up to a week for the turnaround.’

‘No’. He seemed to bellow over the e-mail. ‘I will give you it this Thursday and I want it back on Saturday. You did it for me once before in the same number of days.’

I quietly explained that that had been at a quiet time; there were people ahead of him in the queue; and I now didn’t want his business. I didn’t even suggest the Beith sub-branch which I often do.

And I put up an Out-of-Office message on the e-mail explaining that unless you were already booked in, I wasn’t taking new work. After all, there are big skies out there and I’m missing out on them. :(

But while I’ve started talking about this can I go on to say a big thanks to some of those who teach English to foreign students (whether through ESOL or otherwise) for not teaching them about pronouns; the magic joining word ‘and’; and when you can use ‘the’ and ‘a’ and ‘an’ and when you can’t. I’m sure many do (especially those working in Italy) but I also feel the need to have a go at academic tutors who must see these errors before people get to the stage where they’re writing 12,000 words……but, hey, it gives me part of my income……… (and a pleasant smile when Wenhao Wang sends out an e-mail thanking all her tutors and friends for all their help whilst she’s been in Glasgow and I get included) :D :D :D

But there’s a lot of downtime as well while you’re waiting for promised work to come in but you don’t want to take on big projects (there’s a fence needing painted) in case ‘the work’ comes in so you decide to do wee projects instead – like updating your folder with all your passwords in it (all the updates are on Post-Its) and forgetting that you’d changed its name from Kleenex Tissues to Crusty Socks (No. No reason) and the realisation now that I’ll need to change it again. Any suggestions? ;)

But the other thing that gets me is when the ‘client’ says, ‘but my tutor says I’m not allowed to split an infinitive. It’s a rule of grammar.’ And unfortunately the tutor is always right even when he/she is wrong. The only rule of grammar is ‘do what you have to do to get your message across as best you can.’

If you want to boldly go where no man has gone before, you go for it. :D

The actual only other rule of grammar is that there are reasons why we have apostrophes, commas, full stops and semi-colons but don’t worry I’ll keep you right on those.

(One that’s slipping through at the moment is ‘till’ instead of ‘‘til’ when people are trying to shorten ‘until’)

(And my thanks to top journo Eamonn O’Neill for the opening quote)

Moving on. To Renfrew Town Hall (the line-dancing capital of the West of Scotland). Where I was, for work, for a Service Users’ Forum. Basically it was about the Fortieth Anniversary of Blue Triangle and a big event that’s coming up – for which I am slightly behind in what I have to do for it. :( :( :(

And when we’re discussing Glasgow’s links with the Wild West, my parents used to tell me that I once met Roy Rogers but without Trigger. All of you (with maybe a couple of exceptions) please feel free to fire up the Google and see who I’m talking about but please ignore the dates mentioned. It was at least ten years later. ;)

And I do use brackets a lot – don’t I?………………………..

No. The point is……for the second time in a week (or so) I was on a bus. And like last week’s tour of Lanarkshire it was very instructive. Do buses do this kind of journey every day or was it ‘cos the driver knew I was on?

From the stop across from Lauder’s Bar in Glasgow all the way to Renfrew Town Centre, we travelled in comfort and style….through Govan, through the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (altho’ I noticed some of the bits still retain names from other hospitals which were closed to justify opening such a big place) and then through Braehead. It was the same on the way back but in reverse. No. I don’t mean he drove the bus in reverse gear. Somewhere he turned it round. And I got strange looks from other people when I got off and said thanks to the driver. It could have been more embarrassing. I could have organised a whipround.

Tbh, I’m not sure if buses will catch on but it was nice to be a passenger for once. :)

And finally, I was concerned that the most hated man in this blog David Laws (the Lib-Dem MP who claimed upwards of £30,000 rather than admit he was homosexual but he did pay it back so that was okay but just try that in ASDA if you lift something without paying for it cos you’ve been sanctioned by the so-called IDS) was going to be mentioned in the recent Honours List but wise counsel prevailed. And I despair that The Scottish Government cannot make any decisions about broadcasting in Scotland but the unelected Lady Moan can. :( There’s a lot of Tories who don’t understand her selection

Cya, still wearing that badge (altho’ I almost lost the current one) and why not keep it simple.

Johnt850, needing to check out whether my own business insurance covers me for work.

And the reason they’re called refugees is because they’re seeking refuge from oppression, war and tyranny – Like the Jews did in the Thirties.

And Rangers’ latest superstar (Gedion Zalalem) was born in Berlin to Ethiopian parents.

No. No reason.

And I suspect this is the song that line dancers hate the most!

“If you walk across my camera I will flash the world your story.” (Woody Guthrie)

August 22, 2015

And so dear listener, this may well be a blog of two halves – adventures in Scotland’s largest theme park and the growing move to persuade me to get a dog, but I intend to combine it with the odd shout-out such as:

No, Doreen H, the pink hippo is mine!

(You get the idea?)

Let’s start with the adventure. From time to time we take some of our service users on outings. Sometimes they’re educational and one time I was involved with a bunch of former (mostly) heroin users who came with me and another worker to Kelvingrove Art Galleries. Now I love the place and can easily combine a visit there with a meal in a place like Firebird (unless I fall over) but for me, this was an amazing experience cos I was seeing it through the eyes of people who’d never seen an art gallery and I was asked questions I couldn’t answer. We kind of wander through such places kidding on we know things, don’t we, when we don’t. And not everyone has been to a museum or art gallery. :(

Anyway this was a trip to M & Ds where I and some others, including the good Dr W, had been zombies and some really good memories returned.

Anyway our folk went on various rides and our expectation as workers was to wander round and keep a general eye on things but the spirit of adventure never goes away, does it? And it is exactly one year since Go Ape and almost one year since the abseiling…… I had to do it. I went on the Tornado. How can I describe the experience?

Well you get strapped in and then it goes up the railroad thing and then, OMG, it drops down to the right at one helluva speed and OMG, I’m going to fall out and then OMG, why is Strathclyde Park on top of me and OMG it’s not. I’m upside down and then I’m not and then I’m upside down again and them OMG it’s leaning to the right and OMG it’s going back up again and OMG, why is it so fast and OMG, it’s slowing down and nobody’s whiteyed (i.e. been sick) and it slows to a halt and then it calms down. :( :) :( :)

And I get off and walk very slowly and with a white face, which was in direct comparison to one I had had earlier…but it was an adventure. The pirate ship wasn’t quite the same but I have a blood bruise where the person sitting next to me grabbed my wrist in panic.

And it was all fine and very educational; I was on three buses and also had a very small cut to my head but that was from a branch as we took a very picturesque route to M & Ds and Amazonia is brilliant. :)

Janice W, I haven’t burnt down the log cabin just yet!

And then there’s the dog thing….

Parents of the World! Beware! Chihuahua the Movie is scary and has shapeshifters and people arising from the dead and just be careful. That’s all I’m saying.

Y’see one of my co-workers is suggesting I get a dog cos she’s had a couple of dates following her dog walking activities at night and she recommends getting a dog from a sanctuary cos they’ve been treated and may well be trained. And I was out with friend e and her daughter RJ walking Holly the Dog when a jolly interesting lady walked past and I turned to look at her and she had turned to look at….Holly the Dog. Not my first riddie of last week and not my last.

So it seemed a good notion when e offered to let me dogwalk every so often until, well, if you’re sensitive, then look away now, me and RJ watched fascinated as e had to wash the dog in a very sensitive place cos it was having, well, bowel problems…..I had considered a takeaway curry on the way home but it soon turned into toasted cheese. But the notion is turning over in my brain.

And finally, a big Shout Out to BBC Al, the blog’s bad taste pal and his lovely wife, Catriona:

I’ve been to the dentist you recommended and I came away smiling. Thank you. :)

Cya, still wearing that badge (but it’s a new one so thank you J) and still keeping it simple but ‘going for it’ may return. No I haven’t a clue either.

Johnt850, the taste of adventure is returning. Now all I need is……..

So, if the PhD had gone ahead, then it would have been looking at alcohol education in a very wide sense which is jolly interesting cos this week saw the publication of stats which showed that ‘more than 1100 Scots drank themselves to death last year’.

Now it has been shown globally in those countries that have adopted it that Minimum Unit Pricing has a major effect in cutting the number of deaths and reducing hospital admissions and alcohol related crime and the Scottish Government is all for it but the Scotch Whisky Association is against it and I wanted to place them on my list of potential interviewees but I was told there was no point as we already knew their public stance.

Y’see there’s a big difference between some academic interviewing and the journalistic stuff. I’d like to have asked them whether their real interest was the continued maximisation of profit. After all the Association’s spokesperson apparently ‘pointed out that alcohol-related deaths (were) down 25 per cent since an all-time high of 1546 in 2006’.

Maybe if we had Minimum Unit Pricing, even fewer people would have died….but I’m no longer in a position to put that to them.

Now, to finish, a track from a singer, recommended by J the philosopher, whose name I didn’t recognise, but I recognised the song (No. I know J’s name. I meant the singer.) She’s Brandi Carlile and the words are nice but look at the amazing skies…….and doesn’t one of the pics look like the Forth and Clyde Canal in one of its leafier bits?

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” (H.P. Lovecraft)

August 14, 2015

And so dear listener, earlier this week I sat as my creative juices failed to flow and looked at the screen in a mild state of panic. I was not too sure if I had anything to write about. Seriously. I had not been at my usual (paid) gig with the homeless for some time; I didn’t really want to talk about the football; I had received pioneering tales of an explorer’s life in Canada which I’m kinda keeping to myself; and also from a family in Robin Hood territory seeming to do things more dangerous than any abseiling or zipwiring done by myself and the good Doctor W, some time back.

The editing is highly seasonal. August and May are the big months and this has been the busiest August since I started. Yup. The money’s good and most folk pay up without any real hassle but there are limits to the number of times I want to hear about quantitative and qualitative models (Bryman 2001). After all it was my inability to cope with Research Methodology that deterred me from applying for a PhD. :(

And you have no idea what it’s like to wake up at half past six, look at your phone (eh?) and realise it’s not the final 2,000 words you were expecting but 12,000 words. But you get up and wander through to the laptop, tell Skippy she shouldn’t be looking at those sites and get on the e-mail…….and it’s a Chinese person writing about the democratisation of China and in the Acknowledgements, there’s this little gem;

‘Finally, this is for those who resist injustice, promote human rights and democratization in China.’

And you want to do your best for the writer (and get paid as well). (I replaced the middle coma with ‘and who’)

Moving quietly on.

This week’s Faux-Pas of the Month was telling a friend, who was in Gartnavel for a urological prostate examination, to keep his pecker up……… :P

I was on standby to do some media stuff for Prostate Cancer UK and the decision not to give Enzalutamide to men who are unable to take chemotherapy – whereas this drug could help see that their lives are prolonged – simplistic description, I know. I just know how fortunate I was in my treatment for this cancer and think giving realistic hope is good. But I was pleasantly surprised when I got a breakdown of coverage from the charity’s PR who attached this cryptic message;

P.S. Did you know you can buy instant chip shop curry sauce from ASDA. I did so recently, but have yet to see how it compares to the real thing… :)

Trust me, that is really un-nerving cos I have no idea what I write at times – but I do do it sober and substance free (and it relates to last week’s blog)

I did think of writing about Michelle Moan. I am ambivalent about the Honours List but it does mean something to those who accept honours and who stay quiet about them until announced – such as my hairdresser’s husband who uses a wheelchair and has been awarded a bit of the Empire or something for services to Sport and Charity and who did keep quiet about it.

Now who could have leaked Michelle’s possible elevation to the peerage to the press? And I hope it gets withdrawn. And I make no comment about any speculation about her tax arrangements.

And I don’t have a lot of time for wife-cheater Paul Hollywood and his smutty innuendos about cracks (in their cakes) when talking to women. And I certainly don’t need to be patronised by him by explaining to me what arlettes are. I mean surely everyone knows they are (read it slowly, Skippy) wafer-thin reverse puff-pastry biscuits that hail (slowly Skip) from south-west France.

And I make no comment about him being confused about what a crofter is/does by calling them peasants, but it does say a lot about his attitude towards people.

And finally, since the above is doom and gloom, here’s a joke;

I went into Gregg’s and bought a sandwich. Then a mate noticed that it had a blue wire, a red wire and a yellow wire sticking it out and said, ‘It might be a bomb.’ So I phoned the bomb squad and said that I had this sandwich with a blue wire, a red wire and a yellow wire sticking out and I was worried in case it was a bomb.

‘Is it ticking?’ they asked.

‘No,’ I said. ‘It’s cheese and onion.’ :D :D :D

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

Johnt850, getting real sick at looking at this screen but, hey, it’s money.

When you talk to people who have had bad experiences you often ask, ‘have you recovered?’ expecting a simple ‘yes’ and the same question could be put to me. The cancer? Yes – except I always worry. The alcohol dependency? Yes. I just don’t drink.

But I do know that those who take the Twelve Step Programme seriously (and not everyone who goes to AA does) see themselves as being continually in recovery and I respect this. I was recently talking to a female acquaintance of mine and our respective stories spilled out cos of what we were talking about.

We shared our experiences before we went into a meeting and benefitted from the experience. The hug at the end cements the share. And I walk away with a smile on my face. There is a brilliant, spiritual feel to recovery. I once spoke to a former BBC colleague in Central Station about her dad’s recovery and how much it meant to her and her family – also following the Twelve Step Programme.

The big thing is that we find something that helps and means something to us. And walk away with a smile on our face. It’s a choice. It’s our responsibility.

This is Dan, aka Withered Hand, from the King Creososte gig of a few days ago but without Pam.

Nobody dances sober, unless they happen to be insane (HP Lovecraft)

August 7, 2015

But I’m not so sure I agree with that.

And so dear listener, this week I was reunited with a culinary delicacy that I had not had for a long time. I try not to identify the location of where I work other than to say it’s in the Charing Cross area of Glasgow, but those of you who frequent Sauchiehall Street at about three in the morning will be aware of a top-notch eatery called The Bistro. It’s the kinda place where you can order a cheeseburger with donner (sp) sauce with chips’n’cheese on the side. I usually bring in pieces (Becky from North London – if I lose you in this, and the next, paragraph, worry not).

One of our guests was going over there and took some orders. She came back and said, ‘I got a free chips’n’curry sauce, jt. Do you want it?’ to which I said yes.

Michel Roux, Michael Smith and Kimberley Wyatt (she cooks), eat your heart out. There is a certain taste to chip shop curry sauce isn’t there? (Vinegar to dilute it) I ate with gusto (a pseudonym to protect a true identity) until that moment when you realise that the chips have drowned in the sauce and it is curry/potato mush you are devouring…….but bliss.

You can keep your jus

and your ‘French ragout’.

Curry sauce is magic.

About four or five years ago (I was a meat eater) I had some thoughts about a radio documentary about women who work as prostitutes and the dangers they were being put in by closing the saunas. One night a contact invited me down to meet some of the ladies of the night and their willingness to appear (if the programme was commissioned) was smashing. I got back to my car and got a burger and onions from the van the other side of Charing Cross and ate it on the way up the road at about two.

Hours later I had to be in a hotel in Bellshill to meet a former sauna worker who had also expressed interest in taking part in the programme. When I got into the car the smell of burger and onions was overwhelming and I sprayed after shave all over it – which was a mistake. I was overwhelmed. The conversation with the former sauna worker was good and she didn’t need a lift up the road. I travelled home in a fog of Calvin Klein Eternity and optimism.

The programme was never commissioned. And I became a pescatarian.

But the retro theme continues and social media are oft blamed for the proliferation of dangerous acts amongst young men – or ‘chicken’ as we used to call it as I grew up. We didn’t have social media then and we didn’t need to create our own danger in Peterhead. The North Sea was at the bottom of the road and a disused harbour wall was slightly further afield. The game, during the winter, was, individually, to run up the steps, await the next great wave and then run down the steps before it hit, sweeping you aside.

(To be honest it was not the fear of the water that made you run; it was the fear that Cthulhu, the Great Old One, would rise and overwhelm you with his many tentacles and pull you under. For those of you who do not know of Cthulhu, the water-being is described as ‘part octopus, part man and part dragon’)

And speaking of dragons, J my favest philosopher, drew my attention to an arts installation in the foyer of UWS (Paisley) Library which depicts Elizabeth Bennett (star of Pride and Prejudice) sitting on a bench reading but there is no sign of the dragon ‘oft alluded to’ in the book. Sandy Stoddart, the Queen’s Sculptor in Scotland, was a member of the Winers’ Club (as was I) and has his studio on campus……..I must draw his attention to it someday.

But, dear listeners, where is/was the dragon referred to in the book?

And finally, and still looking back, years ago I worked in a boys’ home in the south side of Glasgow (No. This is not that kind of revelation). One of the residents was called Go-Go (Gordon) and it was a time when Glasgow had a lot of small factories and warehouses just ripe for breaking into or burning down for insurance purposes. Go Go was very small for his age (14) and his role in life was to break in through the slightly ajar and very tight sky-light and let the rest of the gang in through the front door (‘Police were baffled’)

Go Go had his own solitary game of Chicken. He’d go down to the railway line and throw things at passing trains until the railway police came and chased him. One night he threw a piece of metal at a train and it rebounded off the overhead cable and bounced back and hit him on the head. He never did that again.

Cya, still wearing that badge and keeping it simple. It’s the best way.

Johnt850 and ‘No. Stephen I do not still have a Bebo page’

So, dear listener, the retro theme comes to an end for this week except to say that me and e went to see a live performance (musically) of From Scotland With Love with music from King Creosote at Kelvingrove Bandstand.

The opening act was a guy called Dan (aka Withered Hand) and his friend Pam from London whose daughters had amazing raincoats. Dan had slightly different lyrics from Monica Queen (last year’s opener for Steve Earle) in his songs and a wee bit more stage presence although he never moved from the spot.

And then the projectors started running and the most amazing archive footage (as seen in the TV doc of the same name) appeared on two screens and the enhanced Collective started playing and it was soooo smashing that e forgot about the illicit cans of ginger beer she had smuggled in…….it was that smashing.

If it comes to your area, go see it. It’s Scotland as you have never seen or heard it before – or you can buy the DVD. Becky, just do it.

This is not King Creosote; this is an obvious in-joke

Release the Sheep! (Gabby Logan – but I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that)

August 1, 2015

And so dear listener, earlier this week, I attended the latest in my last ever cancer (just to be sure) consultations but the consultants seem to have now read each other’s notes and, whilst they are people who tend to be consulted about different things, they all agree on one thing – keep taking the PSA blood test. :)

And yet, after I signed off from Moira my addiction worker, I heard nothing….no follow up. No. No dark and sinister conclusion – just a different view of things returning. :)

I’ll move myself on.

Can I, in a week which saw Sarah Harding ‘die’ on Coronation Street, say how glad I was that Kimberley Wyatt won Celebrity Masterchef. (This, btw, is a programme which, when I watch it, forces me to go into the kitchen and get a packet of crisps which could explain why I am soooooo fat) There is nothing natural in Rylan’s world, and he knows it. He is a master of Twenty-First Century Celebrity TV and he does it soooo well. But Kimberley cooks.

Many, many years ago I had a day off from the BBC…as in a ‘being sick’ day. Daytime TV was not as well developed in those days. We had no interest in buying and selling antiques; in surprising people by doing up their houses without asking them what they really wanted; or in watching rich bores looking at possible new houses at the licence fee payers’ existence.

I watched Teletubbies and went in to work (a word we used casually to describe being at the BBC and getting paid for it) the next day. ;)

‘Wow,’ I said. ‘Have you seen the size of the rabbits in Teletubbies?’ To which, as one, they replied, ‘What were you on yesterday?’ A question, which, in later years……..

I’ll move myself on.

Incidentally the catchy catchphrase as the headline comes from ITV’s Celebrity One Man and His Dog (sorry, Flockstars) which started this week just past as did their great British Bake-Off (with meat) competition – this from a company that runs wall to wall Jeremy Vine on a Saturday and still people complain about the BBC.

And finally, I didn’t make it to the first game of the season against Hamilton and I need to check the seating arrangements for the game against Celtic next week – try and avoid the smoke bombs.

New listeners and philosophers might be interested to know that I don’t go to every game for all sorts of reasons but people like Steve, Bean, Stewart, Stuart, Craig, Eric, Craig (again), John-Paul, Rab, Alan and #soulboyDaviebee (sp?) all played an amazing part in my recovery when I decided I needed out on a Saturday afternoon, but I don’t talk much about what happens. After all what happens at away matches stays between me, them and Kingsley. ;)

Anyway, there’s a lot of editing coming in (it’s seasonal) and is available through and that is taking up much paid time at the moment but I’ve also taken on a new role at my work which, as some people know, is the Blue Triangle Housing Association (I am basically a night-time project worker in supported accommodation for the homeless which has its moments).

It’s BT’s Fortieth Anniversary this year and there will be a big event (invited guests) in Oran Mor at the top of Byres Road (olde BBC rehearsal rooms in ye ancient days) in October. I am the Creative Writing Coach for the event which will involve getting in pieces of writing from Service Users (SUs) in all the projects all over Scotland, selecting some for the day and, hopefully, getting them to read it out. And I’m really looking forward to it. :D

Cya, still wearing that badge and considering how best to keep it simple

Johnt850, in like a rocket and out like a feather. No. I have no idea what I’m talking about but apparently it’s a well-known cliché.

So, a bunch of right wing fanatics led by the evil and so-called IDS are so concerned about obese people, alcoholics and drug addicts (tabloid shorthand) claiming benefits that they are planning to stop those benefits unless they go get treatment (without specifying what that treatment should be). The so-called IDS you may remember, from previous blogs, did not realise that attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings was voluntary and, eh, anonymous.

I am ambivalent. I have, however, met people in the past who were able to tell Social Security/Benefits Agency people that these things were an incurable disease and all they could do was to go to AA (and similar meetings) to keep these addictions under control and managed to get whatever form of sickness benefit was going at the time. (I have also met people who give the word ‘illness’ (or similar) their own particular twist and have used the Twelve Steps to full advantage and work and pay taxes)

Now (maybe for the wrong reasons) we will start to examine this out-dated concept of using the ‘illness’ aspect and see it as problem that can be dealt with by lifestyle and behavioural changes – a view that’s only been around since the sixties but it does mean taking responsibility and how rarely do we do that these days?

And on that sane and sensible note, one of the many media sources on my facebook (possibly Dangerous Minds) showed some amazing artwork from Lewis Carroll’s original thoughts about Alice and I remember an exhibition at the Science Centre where you turned on and tuned into Alice and the house at right angles to itself where I was able to plank safely.

This is White Rabbit by the amazing Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane at Woodstock

If you could read my mind, love, What a tale my thoughts could tell, Just like an old-time movie, ‘Bout a ghost from a wishin’ well (Gordon Lightfoot)

July 25, 2015

I have a book called ‘How to be a Ghost’ It was a Christmas gift from e. I wonder where it is.

And so, dear listener, you could be standing in the middle of George Street, Paisley, looking west and you could ask someone ‘where does this road go?’ and they’ll probably answer, ‘to the Phoenix Retail Park’, whereas some of us know that it actually goes all the way to Canada. That’s ‘big sky thinking’ for you. :)

It’s like asking many questions of the menu of life and choosing a baked potato and tuna.

Or when line dancing you choose to snort…….sorry, I was about to get recreational past-times mixed up there……oooops……..

For a short while I deejayed in Rothesay – many years ago. When nobody was up on the floor, ‘Sunday Beautiful Sunday’ got them up on the floor…the Slosh. I last performed that with zombies and at Zoe’s birthday party.

Avici, eat your heart out. :D

And all that after fifty-five minutes with J my favourite philosopher (and I apologise for dangling my bracelet bits in the soup).

Moving swiftly on.

But before I go too far, can I say that this week’s Freudian Slip of the Month goes to me when I said to a co-worker, ‘ASDA, where I live.’…….

Altho’ I think that Peter Alliss advising the world that Open Champion Zak Johnson’s wife would probably spend his £1 million pound plus earnings on a new kitchen was grosser. And it was it necessary to suggest that young amateur Paul Dunne preferred older women cos his mum was standing beside him and Alliss suggested it might be his girlfriend?

No it’s been a sad week for organisations for whom I have a great deal of respect particularly at a time when they’re both under attack; but dear BBC why didn’t you show all the final day of the Open (particularly when Andy Murray seems to have the ability to clear the schedules at a moment’s notice)? And dear Labour Party (remember that I had a tear in my this year when I had to put my X somewhere else on that ballot paper) voting down the Welfare Changes Bill would have been a worthwhile gesture –a rallying call.

The arm will never fully recover cos I’ll forget to do the exercises….but I am happily squeezing my carrot as part of my routine and will soon start doing that in public (Skippy, have a word with me please, should I ever talk about doing it on an omnibus)…..

And for those of you who know what I am talking about I have recovered from being hit in the face by a giant inflated, inflatable penis by a member of a hen party outside the legendary Shanghai Shuffle in Bath Street. I may have deliberately omitted to tell some people because at times I can be quite old-fashioned; and at other times amazingly innovative; and at yet others I’d completely forgotten it had happened. :)

And a big thank you to my old friend, Sanjeev Kohli, of whom I always had high hopes when he presented Ghetto Blasting (and I wonder what he’s doing now) for pointing out that when we tell people to put their best foot forward are we implying that they have three legs?

And I didn’t go to the pre-season friendly against Rotherham. I’m not a big fan of these. My favest was a wee pre-season tournament about four (?) years ago when we played host to Airdrie (Death to the Diamonds!), Liverpool (a youth team with some (now) well known names) and Celtic (a bunch of haddies including Tony Watt and Josh Thompson).

Still it was good to see the Celtic fans taking the pre-season practice aspect of it seriously. They let off flares. Peter Lawwell seemed to say nothing.

And finally, I am back at work and doing overtime and bringing some money in to keep the ever expanding collection of CDs well, expanding, and the editing work is good and happening. New spectacles don’t pay for themselves and if you’ve seen me since and not said anything, then you’re forgiven. Maybe you’ll notice this Summer. :)

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

Johnt850, happily confused as well :)

So this blog is supposed to talk of cancer and drink’n’drugs and often I wonder if people listen or if my tales of decent academic research are ignored as the ravings of a frustrated raver. So it was interesting to hear of Durham’s plan to de-criminalise possession of cannabis for personal use. I mean why give someone a criminal record just cos they smoke a plant that makes them feel good?

Anyway the much-maligned and often stereotyping BBC set up a wee live discussion on its news channel. Two things happened that made me smile and put another incense stick in the incense holder.

One of the guests was, of course, Professor David Nutt and the other was a guy from Bristol called Stephen Whose Surname I Did Not Catch who was introduced as a former cannabis addict yet, when he had to refer to himself, talked of himself as a former cannabis user.

And despite the best efforts of the presenter, Clive Myrie, his two guests kept coming back to the effects of the most dangerous drug of them all – alcohol. Will we ever learn?

Read nothing into this. Just enjoy. It’s a lovely wee video. It’s a banging tune. It’s Avici. And aplogies if there’s an ad.

Food banks aren’t part of the welfare state – they are an indication that our welfare state is failing (Mhairi Black)

July 17, 2015

And so, dear listener, despite my obvious anonymity, I am often stopped in the street and asked questions about the events and the people in this modest little radio show. Recently the burning question has been – where’s the Vampire Slayer?

(It’s also been noticed that another one time regular has also been missing and has not played as prominent a role as previously in encouraging me to things beyond my wildest dreams. Well, Skippy is fine and taking a well deserved rest)

Altho’ the burning question amongst Native American Indians in Paisley High Street, which is back to being open to cars at night, is, ‘do we wear plaits or pigtails?’

Back to the VS. :)

Having taken on and conquered the vampires of Scotland she sought fresh fields and went to Italy to pursue personal ambitions and to take on their vampires. Only she got bitten instead. By a young man. And is now engaged. And I am delighted. :D

It’s been a wee while since we last met (Tinderbox in Prince’s Square) and there is a very slight age difference but I have always valued advice from the Torrance One, the Vampire Slayer, and, yes, ‘Some things are destined not to last for ever. Take the memories and go.’ No. No reason

Hope to see you when you come back to Scotland (on holiday?) and I meet your young man.

Oh and the other question I’m asked a lot is ‘whatever happened to hardbag?’.

It evolved it into UK hard house is the answer. This is an example;

Moving swiftly on but smiling.

Incidentally the quote at the top is from Partick Thistle supporting MP Mhairi Black and her smashing maiden speech was eulogised in many quarters but I do wonder if it was because she is seen by some as a ’20 year old lassie in amongst the grown-ups’ or as an MP, because if it was the latter I am slightly disappointed that a nationalist MP was unaware of the connections between part of her constituency and William Wallace. I mean it’s not as if Elderslie hides it……BUT before I am cyber natted, she was so much better than many of her SNP colleagues…..What (without googling) did you think of your MP’s maiden speech (Tommy Shepherd’s was also really good)……or haven’t they made it yet?

She is a very bright prospect but, please do not expect too much, too soon….remember the young William Hague?

Anyway let’s talk about something that really interests and excites me. ;)

Me. At least a wee catch up of some recent things like….

I’m finished with the psycho…sorry, physio…..I can now dry my hair properly and whilst to many it may seem I have an arrogant ego about my hair it is a movement that I was totes unable to carry out a few weeks ago…….whether my arm will ever straighten again is a wee bit in doubt but it’s scarcely noticeable.

And I went on a walk with Glasgow Central Walking Group, which is part of the Glasgow Meet Up website I’ve talked about before, and we went from the Squiggly Bridge to all the way around Glasgow Green. A very diverse group. I spoke to someone from Iran, two people from Poland and someone from Linthouse. Next time I go I may speak to some of the men. :)

And I saw my lawyer on Glasgow Green with a like-minded bunch of people but before I tell you what he was doing, I’ll maybe have a quiet word with him.

And in the course of general conversation I mentioned that I had gone back to university recently. So I was asked if I had a doctorate…biting back the tears I said ‘No. I had stopped at a Master’s.’ ‘That is very good.’ I smiled. I will go back. It was probably my new spectacles….my birthday pressie to myself.

And finally, I met up with the blogmeister. He now runs Glasgow University or something like that and I’m very slowly showing him the West End. Tuesday’s lesson was Vodka Wodka where we did a lot of people watching. Next time we’ll look at the men.

But he very kindly took my pic which is now upon fbook as my profile pic. I am so fat. Uni-Sharon, I may be having words…I need help. I was so distressed. I was going to offer people copies but I have so let myself go. :(

Cya, still wearing that badge (altho’ I’ve lost one) and quite happily keeping it simple.

Johnt850, still smiling.

And I was going to talk a wee bit here about the voting in Parliament thing but only if you’re an English MP can you talk about England and so on and it was about them wanting to bring English fox hunting laws in line with our Scots laws where we allow eight dogs to root out a fox rather than the two in England (and I think I’ve got that right) and then I stopped in my tracks…we still have fox hunting in Scotland?

And the other night I was shown a video of a Scots hunt. Yes, foxes can be pests and there are reasons for their control but what I saw on the video was more ‘sport’ in some people’s eyes than control. I remain confused…..Thanks to Ann and Ruth for trying to steer me through the confusion.

I played Steve Earle last week. I’d never heard of him until the Second Gulf War when I was setting up a radio programme in New York for BBC Radio Scotland (I was in Glasgow) and Steve and some others were in process of being kicked off radio and TV for their anti-war views (there is no freedom of speech unless you accept that people have views with which you disagree) and I was trying to get them on the prog. I failed.

The others? They were the Dixie Chicks. This is they.

I’m one of those people that you have to keep your eye on or I’ll wander off into the woods and forget to come back (Jack White)

July 10, 2015

And so dear listener, you will be delighted to hear that I am in a much better mood than last week. :) Various reasons but one of them was this textual conversation that I had with a (for obvious reasons) anonymous female friend. We were arranging something and she told me that her and her husband were at a friend’s and after that they were going to bed.

Stunned, I started at the Blackberry screen. Within seconds my screen screamed at me; ‘b & q, b & q…we’re going to b & q………’ Sometimes you just gotta love predictive texting. :D

And the birthday treat I treated myself to on my birthday has arrived. A wee bit of getting used to them and then all (?) will be revealed.

And my arm’s better and my wrist can manipulate more. The student physio is good and was supervised quite closely by Calum who recognised me from somewhere……’Yes,’ said I, ‘I’m the git (typo but I’m leaving it) who cold turkeyed and had to learn to walk again with physios at Gartnavel and then you got me.’ (Y’see I can’t put it behind me but I can admire a well filled gantry in the Canal Station Bar in Paisley but not want to try it)……Anyway I am almost at the stage where I can drop the wristband I wear (unless I decide to train kestrels or am talking to management or am looking for sympathy) and most of the movement is back but I was still having trouble drying my hair so I got my hair cut by Sandra whose husband uses a wheelchair and was awarded an MBE recently for services to sport and charity. :)

But she lives in a part of Bearsden which has a speed limit of 20 mph, speed bumps and now has those concrete blocks which give priority to people coming in the opposite direction and have strange white lines so when I was recently looking for a place to park outside somebody’s house and paused on those double white lines, I was shouted at by a Bearsden resident. I didn’t accept the bait but it turns out he has three cars, two of which are parked on the road.

And I know where he lives. :)

And an unexpected birthday card sure puts a smile on your face. :D :D :D

And I may attempt a bus journey. For some reason associated with my age I have a card with a picture on it which entitles me to free bus travel. I have never used it for all sorts of reasons – one of which is that to use a bus out of Summerston, I’d have to take my car to the nearest bus stop – so they’ve moved the bus terminus and bus stop nearer me…….. I have no excuse but am every grateful.

I did try a wee while back when I was supposed to be going to a training session on Food Handling and Storage (important in a residential setting like the one in which I work) but I had been dreading seeing pictures of meat anyway (let alone meat gone off) and as I got closer to the bus stop I got boakier and turned back – a wee bit like my last non-sober year as a college tutor but those were hangovers.

Mmmmm, ….the 19 bus looks a good prospect (Sorry but that sounds like a bus perv in the old days of Clatty Pat’s)…speaking of which…….in the week when Anna Burnside of the Record tells us that sexism is dead I am appalled by the number of female friends (and some male) who have drooled over pictures of Norwegian policemen in their lycra cycling shorts. Still, that does mean I no longer have to worry about watching Debbie does Dallas behind closed doors. Sorry. That should read ‘Debbie does Dallas’ behind closed doors – otherwise you’d not be able to see what Debbie does to Dallas.

And finally I was really moved by the survivors’ stories of 7/7 ten years ago. An amazing mix of ages, faiths, sexes and backgrounds who did more to convince me of the good that a diverse group of people can achieve than any amount of cyber marketing from Britain First/Scottish Defence League can ever persuade me otherwise.

Cya, still wearing that badge nd defo keeping it simple………

Johnt850, a well-known Northern Powerhouse.

And I think I’m probably expected to say something about the budget – the legislation which bans triplets…….which sees Ian Duncan Smith jumping for joy at the introduction of a National Living Wage which is less than the recommended one which Hearts FC pay but is 30 pence more than the SNP promised by 2020.

The so-called IDS apparently used to stand in that same position in the Commons under the previous government but would lean on Dame Anne Begg’s wheel chair (Torcuil Crichton Daily Record, 9th July 2015 and as Torcuil is also a man who wears brown shoes with a dark suit it must be true).

Housing benefit for under-21s is to be scrapped. Many of the folk I work with are under 21 and are homeless for a range of reasons, including having been in care all their lives and/or various forms of abuse.

And, altho’ not technically a public sector worker, I have a strange feeling that my pay rises are now limited to one per cent per year for the next four years……

And Working Tax Credits made a big difference to my life when moving from Incapacity Benefit to self-employment.

Anyway, less of the doom and gloom……just over a year ago I had the pleasure of seeing an acoustic Steve Earle play at the Kelvingrove Bandstand…..this is he in a slightly different context but with Sharon Shannon.

Yes, there’s a reason………..

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

July 3, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnt850, the man who taught Magic Mike XXL everything.

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

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

‘Park over there, mate.’

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

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

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

Negotiations may yet continue.

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


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