‘My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three’ (The lightning in Vladimir Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’)

November 27, 2015

And I think that is such an evocative line.

And so, dear listener, the mindfulness classes are about to finish (and we will go for a mindful bevvy after the last one) but it is beginning to happen for me. I now understand and welcome the sound of silence and in a practice last week we were asked to think of a (small) negative thing in our lives in order to remove it from our thinking, if only on a temporary basis. I obviously chose the fact that I cannot get the battery compartment of the TV remote control open. It’s lying there, staring at me. :(

I wonder if mindfulness can help – or maybe I should take into class to see if anyone there knows how to do it. :)

And on the subject of philosophy can I thank J, the blog’s favest philosopher, for her very reassuring answer for when she and I went to get some food in a restaurant and the waiter asked where we’d like to sit. I may have looked confused, so J very kindly said, ‘jt, there are no right answers to some questions.’

So, much emboldened by this, I looked him straight in the eye and said, ‘you choose.’ Steely determination or what? :D

And then we went to Waterstone’s and looked at books. And this has been important to me in a week when I found that mindfulness may be working, cos to be honest, we talked a lot about books as well as looked at them. I went back the next day and bought some and some book-related presents. Indeed, I may put my tree up this weekend but not put the lights on just yet- indecisive or what? ;)

But I bought two books that Son Brian had requested for C’mas and I am soooooo impressed by his choices.

And then on Thursday, my work had an Away Day down Abington way. And the journey back was a nightmare. The minibus got gridlocked in the carpark that was the M8 coming into Glasgow. It took ages. And then, whilst some of the others went to the pub, I came home cos there was editing to do. (My Waterstone’s purchases had to be paid for).

And I got on the train only to be told that if I was going to Hyndland I’d to get off at Partick ‘cos I was now on the Balloch Express and the next stop after Partick was Dumbarton….all very depressing as the train sat for ages just outside Charing Cross and all these people were sitting looking at their phones and reading things and sending messages and then I spotted her – two seats in front and by the door I would use to get out once the train actually stopped.

She was actually reading a book – hardback – called appropriately The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. As the train pulled into Partick and I go up to go out, I leaned over and said how nice it was to see someone reading a book. She didn’t call for Security; she looked up and said, ‘thank you.’ :D

Books is good – and please excuse my grammar but you get the drift.

But obviously I won’t talk about the Away Day until I’ve at least filled out the evaluation form.

However, the bestest training I’ve ever attended was when I was a Beaver Leader for the 183rd Bearsden Scouts, altho’ living in Summerston. It was a dirty job, but someone had to do it and the Bearsden parents didn’t want to – so me and Son Brian did.

The training was over two Sundays and it was a lot of people and it went class; game; activity; lecture; break; class; game; activity; lecture; break and so on…….all done, not by management consultants, but by mums and dads who cared.

(And I met a woman who had met Lady Baden-Powell)

Unfortunately I never ever received my warrant cos of an unfortunate incident where I locked those senior Scouts who had come to test me for my warrant in the car park……we’ll maybe gloss over that just now. :(

And finally, a wee while back, I spoke of the dangers of sugar in either its brown or its white form and said that it was potentially more dangerous than any other white or brown powder that may be causing concern. People scoffed.

Earlier this week I was walking through Glasgow City Centre and noticed many people carrying what looked like pizza boxes. It turned out to be a marketing stunt for Krispy Kreme doughnuts who are opening new stores. Did you know that there are 13 grams of fat in each Krispy Kreme doughnut; that the standard glazed doughnut has 222 calories but some versions have more than 400; and often they are sold in boxes of twelve which is one helluva an encouragement to binge.

So please, eat those doughnuts in moderation just as you’re told to drink in moderation. What else can I say? And it’ll soon be time for the amateur drinkers to hit our streets….beware.

Cya, still wearing that badge and keeping it simple in a bibliophile kinda way.

Johnt850, who was described as ‘lovely’ this week for sharing something on Facebook.

Now some people may have noticed that recently there has been an emphasis on dance in all its many brilliant forms in this musical conclusion to the show (and my thanks to anyone who may have thought that last week’s was mixed by myself. It wasn’t but I wish I had those skills – and that copyright clearance) and indeed this final tune marks the end of such a run.

It is almost the Christmas season and the traditional Twisted Sister’s track will be played next week (if I remember). In the meantime, please enjoy this. I did.

‘Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?’ was possible the most patronising lyric of all time in a fundraising song given the number of Christians in Africa.

November 20, 2015

And so, dear listener, it is true. I have taken all the Christmas stuff down from the attic and have attracted some good natured opprobrium because of it. (Skippy, can you run down to the library and check it’s okay to use that word? Eh, someone who knows what she’s talking about. Yes she does.)

I can explain. I had to replace a bulb on the landing. The landing? I have a semi (and I’ve done every innuendo gag under the sun about semis) with an upstairs and, indeed, it was just under nine years ago that I had cause to fight off the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse on that particular landing but more of that in about three weeks. I do not fancy climbing on a chair to change this particular bulb and so bring in a set of ladders. And I entered the attic and took down the boxes with tree, last year’s unused Christmas cards and paper and the tinsel and glitter and sequins (No. Cut that last one. I am a man’s man. Actually that sounds pretty dubious in itself). :(

Anyway the stuff is down and that means that, at the moment, a twenty-six year old (?) artificial Christmas tree is the first thing I see in the morning as it has been put in the corner of what the Estate Agents laughingly called the Master bedroom – for whatever reason. ;)

And I feel I should point out that I have a downstairs as well, just in case you think that my bedrooms and shower-room are currently hovering above Summerston being kept dry as the storms engage around me (and others) and shut roads and make other roads difficult to travel along. Summerston was almost cut off the other day – only one road out. :(

It’s been like wet Sunday afternoons when you watched amazing dancing and music like this;

Moving on…….

Oh, and my incredibly talented one-year old grand-daughter sent me an e-mail with a link to the Early Learning Centre catalogue, with a suggestion that she just might like ‘this’ as a Christmas pressie. :D

I will now mention Paris but this week’s Kay Burleyism of the month is when she outro’d/intro’d as follows:

‘That was Professor Such and Such; and now for an expert on the subject, here’s Professor So and So.’

But she and every other news reporter and their production and camera teams have played a blinder. Funny how all those Social Media critics of the media have stayed quiet. You can’t do Kay’s job from a computer in your back bedroom – altho’ you can plan a bombing campaign. Ideas and theologies know no borders so you can’t block them.

And no woman in a burqa has ever worried me. We live in a tolerant society, so why ban them? Now, people firebombing or painting graffiti on mosques does worry me. What if these people ever disagree with what I have to say?

And finally, I went to a funeral the other day……Stewart Cruickshank’s.

A lot of people may never have heard of Stewart before this week but an awful lot of nice things were said about him this week – through the pages of Facebook, on BBC Radio Scotland, on Reporting Scotland and on Byres Road.

He had a degree in Economics and Librarianship and started his BBC life in the Gram (Record) library in the basement around about the same time I did (in Religious Broadcasting). Not only was his knowledge of recorded music phenomenal, but he did so much for live music and broke so many new bands through programmes like Beat Patrol with Peter Easton and people. But in conversations (like real ones in Byres Road with @soulboydaviebee) a very similar tale occurs….You’d bump into Stewart in the corridor and tell him that you’d heard a new band a couple of weeks ago, they were really good and had he heard of them?

Yes, he had. He could then give you their discography, their current line-up, who they sounded like and if I liked that kinda music I should listen to……… and then, he’d reach into his pocket or his bag and bring out a demo tape/cassette/tape/cd or usb stick of theirs and give it you. :)

I do wish everyone who slags off the BBC could meet people like him who give so much of themselves to encouraging folk to achieve their potential – in his case, music.

The Great and the Good of Scottish broadcasting were there plus some well known names as well.

So that’s it.

Cya, still wearing that badge (and I found two Doctor Who badges in a Christmas box) and keeping it simple – but in a fairly relaxed kinda way. :)

Johnt850, truly a little scamp

Aye, Christmas……and it’s Christmas. It’s not Xmas, altho’ Xtine is perfectly acceptable :)

But before I say anything about it, I want to mention a Middle Eastern couple (not sure of religion) who were homeless (she was pregnant) and were looking for somewhere to stay. We only have accommodation for single people and the Hamish Allen Centre was full.

A lot of councils wouldn’t take them cos suddenly they realised that they already had homeless people and a lot of folk were agin them cos Britain First had told them to be. And a lot of other folk, including the Provost of Bute, (it has been suggested) thought they might be terrorists…..

Eventually, someone said, ‘Look, we’re halfway through a barn conversion but the local council has stopped our funding for these things as the SNP, in order to court popularity (it has been suggested), have not increased Council Tax for years. Anyway get your heads down there for a wee while.’

And they did. And she gave birth. And shepherds and kings and Kay Burley came to visit.

Do I have to tell you their names?

And I’ve lost the name of the guy whose tweet led to all that.

So lots of dance stuff in the blog these days (No. No reason) and this next vid (suggested by top singer Andrea Cunningham) is just pure fun. It evokes the spirit of wed Sunday afternoons again and there’s a wee dance routine with Fred and Ginger that I could see me and…….oh, hang on. There’s the doorbell. It’ll be the pressie. Enjoy. :D

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” (Orson Welles)

November 13, 2015

And so dear listener, Masterchef is sooo much my favourite TV programme. The judges can be soooooo cruel;

‘If you can’t bake brownies at this level, you have no chance.’

‘That dish looks as if you’ve lost interest already.’

‘Why pour a sauce over a very good salsa?’ (altho’, tbh, I didn’t notice anybody dancing).

And there’s an annoying oversize twunt (called Nick and who looks like an evil Matt Lucas) who already thinks he’s won so I do hope he burns a jus and his bridges at the same time. :D

But it has been soooo much better since Michel Roux stopped presenting it (Bloody foreigners. Coming over here and keeping their bloody foreign names. GET. BACK. IN. THE. SEA. That’s what I say) and Marcus and Monica are good…….but why is it I always ending up eating a bag of crisps when it’s on?

And why is it that, when good looking female sales assistants say to me, ‘See you later.’ and I reply, ‘That’s very nice of you. Where and when suits? I can pick you up. What’s your address?’ they insist on getting Security?

Or why did I get a strange look when, sorting my way through the butter croissants section of Morrison’s in Anniesland, a floor assistant asked if I was alright and I replied, ‘Well, no. I’ve not had a lot of sleep cos I was on night shift and I got caught in the rain there……hello….hello…..?’

And when I said in a recent (important) conversation that I am not as other men, I feel I should now stress that in many respects, not only am I as other men, but in many of those many respects, I am better than many men. I just felt I should clear that up. Did I? :)

And J, the blog’s favest philosopher, was asking after the Vampire Slayer the other day (as indeed were a couple of others) but she is still in Italy as recently there has been a plague of vampires that the wicked and corrupt BBC has failed to report and her services are still needed over there. One day hopefully. (I used to be a serious BBC journalist) :(

But my laptop capacity has almost been reached and I have received suggestions as to how to lower it but they’re gnawing at the edges. :(

And finally, I have received my rota well into January and it’s flexible. There are people out there whom I have not seen for some time and there’s a few promises floating around but I’m open to any offer. Suggestions?

A booklet called Glasgow Loves Christmas has been very helpful and here’s just one suggestion;

‘Put a date in the diary for a girly day out and book a festive afternoon tea – The Willow Tearooms, Cup and Blythswood Hotel all offer great ones.’…that’d be nice but I do stress my manliness I have this deep voice I can use when I want to……but, aye, give us a shout. All ideas considered. It’s either that or I use a day when nothing else is happening to tidy out the drawer with all the batteries.

And someone else suggested going to see a bloke called Les Mizz….. No. No Reason.

Cya, still wearing that badge but I took the poppy off at the end of the day itself – otherwise you’re not thinking about its meaning – and still keeping it simple. It was the only item on the agenda. :)

Johnt850, distraught cos I’ve lost my favest MP3 player. :(

This is not what I originally planned to write but the events of Friday night in Paris have overtaken everything.

It was what security forces feared most; a combination of multiple attacks all launched at approximately the same time; an attack on a large sporting venue with VIPs present; and an attack on a theatre where a concert was being held (the horrors of the Chechnyan attack on the Moscow theatre are still vivid in some memories)

Amongst the aims of the Islamic State and its affiliates are to create divergence rather than diversity and Paris has become a major target for them. There will be those in this country who will seek to create a similar divergence within communities and it can just be a matter of time before mosques are targeted and various right-wing groups will seek to build on the tragedy by blaming the innocent Muslim community in this country.

Similarly, many young Muslims may well see the martyrs as heroes to be emulated in much the same way as many within the Irish Republican movement saw their martyrs as heroes as well. They may not have gone to the same lengths but the technology did not exist – even just years ago in the latest ‘troubles’.

No. I have no answers. These are people who are doing unto others what they are willing to have done to them – kill and be killed. It’s not martyrdom for the seventy-two virgins. It’s a belief in a perverted form of a religion – a belief with which we have nothing to compare – but it is one on which entire states would be based.

I move on.

So the other night there I caught about five minutes of Strictly Come and isn’t dance a real touchy feely thing – except if it’s the Time Warp, the Locomotion, the Twist or Gangnam Style? Anyway, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a man run his hand up and down Carol Kirkwood’s arm and Carol (ex-BBC and stoic) put on a brave smile.

This wee song sums up the joy of dance and I played it a few months ago and I make no apology for playing it again. The lyrics are not that relevant; its the infectiousness that’s important. It calls out to everyone regardless of…….well just regardless.

This being human is a guest house, every morning a new arrival…The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. (Jelaluddin Rumi 13th century)

November 6, 2015

And so dear listener, myself and e were perambulating in a southerly direction down the Byres Road, renowned for its proximity to the University and other seats of learning, its erudite wordsmiths and its highly educated middle-class populace when we spotted them.

One was an awning above a new shop with the words; TEMPORALLY SIGN, :(

One was a board outside Matilda’s, currently a favourite coffee shop cos it does cakes without glutens, with the words, MORGNING DEALS, :(

And I don’t think ASHTINS is a very appropriate name for a fragrant candle shop. :(

And all that before we reached Hillhead Library – an important seat of learning in its own right; or at least it should be.

But a massif Well Done to Darcy’s in Prince’s Square who not only know what products are gluten free, they have a physical piece of paper with the gluten free menu on it. :D


Being in a bank and being asked to put your number in the machine on the desk and saying it out loud.

And I did go to the mindfulness class the other night and, I think that helped later that night with a small editing problem, cos I was soooo relaxed.:)


But I realised that I might be on a different plane from some folk during a discussion on what the mind can do (think in context). Suggestions included being a judgement factory and masterful storyteller.

I explained that sometimes my mind says to me, ‘Sod this for a game of sodgers. There’s a lot better fish to fry out there. And that’s where I’m going.’

I don’t invite these strange looks, y’know.


Being in Queen Street Station and a friend creeps up on you and you feel the need to borrow the station announcer’s microphone to apologise for the bad language you used when he grabbed you.

And BBC Al, the blog’s bad taste pal, I found it! This is in memoriam of a pair of shoes that died on Wednesday.

What the Mallard Duck were they on? And speaking of rhyming slang (altho’ to be honest this is rather convoluted), have you ever been offered a Penny Pickle?

And my thanks to those people (men mostly) who are raising funds this month for research into male cancers by growing moustaches. I’m often asked why I don’t grow a moustache for Movember. The answer is simple. I think it’s important that people see me (on a daily basis) as someone who came through bad alcohol issues and bad cancers eight to nine years ago and looks normal with ‘everything in working order.’ If a touch fat. And weird…..just ask Skippy. She knows, you know.

And some people may be interested to know (j and e mainly) that I have decided to extend my wardrobe – but not in a Narnia kinda way cos that would see me walking straight through to the neighbours. No. Black is no longer the only colour in any of my universes – it’s a blue-ish, grey-ish crew neck sweater from a charity shop in Byres Road. Three pounds since you ask.


Being in Queen Street Station and having donated two pounds for two poppies and then thinking the man said, ‘Don’t forget your pound.’ (‘But, I’ve already given you two.’) when he actually said, ‘Don’t forget your pin.’

And finally, my apologies to anyone (j, but there may have been others) for whom I may have ‘spoiled’ last week’s episode of The Last Kingdom by talking about it; so what I’ve done this week is to write this sentence earlier in the week so it won’t happen again. :)

Cya, still wearing that badge (and I found the missing one!) and keeping it simple

Johnt850, a bit ragged round the edges, but pretty magnificent nonetheless

(Thanks Zoe)

I wear a poppy and do so most years unless I lose them – I need to buy more than one at a time. I do it not out of respect for those who sacrificed their lives (or more accurately ‘were sacrificed’) in various wars this century but out of respect for families who lost loved members. But I also respect the right of people not to wear the poppy. The important thing is that people have the right to choose and make their own minds up about to wear or not to wear.

But this is no longer the case. I saw a bit of X Factor last weekend when I saw an all-girl band and I was transfixed. By their poppies. I would be soooo knocked out and made up if I thought they had gone, ensemble, to the producers and said, ‘oh by the way, have you any poppies we can wear tonight out of respect for the dead of various wars?’

If they did, then I apologise. Or were they, like near enough everyone else on TV, told to wear them in case someone complained. I was told this week of a man who turned up at a meeting on 11th October wearing his poppy (were they even on sale then?) but was soon advised of the other peoples’ views about his possible reasons for doing so. He left the meeting in disgrace.

Poppy wearing should not be compulsory – not just in a TV studio – but anywhere. Discussions about why we go to war should be.


Someone pointing out it looked a bit damaged and I replied, ‘It’s like it’s been in the wars, isn’t it?’ Yes. I did.

I don’t know if I play this music every year or whether it’s just most years.

Siouxsie and the Banshees…..Poppy Day

Though I am grateful for the blessings of wealth, it hasn’t changed who I am. My feet are still on the ground. I’m just wearing better shoes. (Oprah Winfrey)

October 30, 2015

And so dear listener, the beginning of this week was a tale of two punctures; unfortunately both of them mine. Apparently, quite independently of each other, they were penetrated by respective self-tapping screws. Had I any idea how that happened? I have no clue what a self-tapping screw is! How on earth can I be expected to know what happened? :(

But I do know the sense of anguished depair when I looked out the next day and saw a slow flat (I’m getting used to the vocabulary). Straight back to the garage who said they would fix it while I waited and showed me to my ‘usual chair’ with a cup of coffee. It was ‘a valve problem.’ :(

I’d missed my mindfulness class the night before so I tried practising it in the garage. I was fine. I concentrated on sounds. Not the legs of the lady opposite. Honest. ;)

I have the same lack of tekkie interest in cars as I have in most tekkie things. On one occasion during the post grad, we broke into groups and were asked to describe any daily fear we had. Mine was phoning 151 and its ilk. ‘What is Internet Explorer?’ ‘Why’s my washing machine not spinning?’ and my latest fave from the lady from AA (Automobile Association) who asked me what type of tyres I had (‘flat ones’) and then told me where to find the information.

I have become obsessed with looking at my tyres and other people’s. It’s a condition known as tyromania.

It’s now the first thing I do every morning as soon as I wake up. Which is quite a shock for the neighbours as I don’t wear anything in bed. I can never have a PJs’ day. :(

I like people and believe all tekkie stuff should be there as a process to help us – not make me feel inadequate.

I’ve mentioned before the late, great Studs Terkel and his ‘oral histories of common Americans.’ People do have stories to tell but it’s not always the one they’re used to telling; that’s the one they’re expected to tell that we usually hear. There’s the other one.

And for anybody out there who missed the second episode of The Last Kingdom, cos, I don’t know, maybe they were working, it’s beginning to make sense. Uhtred is an Englishman who became a Dane but wants to help the English become a kingdom again and there was a naked man on a horse with a branch stuck up his bum (I’d get a new agent, mate) and we’ve met Alfred, but not the cakes, who did a really clunky speech about uniting England, etc, etc….

And then I foolishly watched a film called ‘King Arthur’ which was equally clunky about introducing us to Arthur and his knights who were seven originally Roman centurions…..’Yes. Lancelot. Et tu, Galahad.’ Kinda thing. Except they didn’t speak any Latin and, of course, there were seven of them as in that groundbreaking movie, the Magnificent Seven Samurai. :)

Lots of stabbings and death by arrows but low on the severed headcount and slo-mo spurtings of blood.

And finally, this week’s Spat of the Month in the Houses of Parliament Award, goes not to the House of Lords and their involvement in the tax credits row but to the fact that there was a debate over the ‘tampon tax’ as apparently, for VAT purposes, these sanitary products are taxed as a luxury item! Apparently veteran Tory MP Bill Cash couldn’t bring himself to say the ‘T’ word instead saying ‘these products.’ T for twunt.

Reminds me of the joke where young Jimmy was sent home from school for using the C word. ‘That wasn’t clever,’ said his mum. And I’ll leave you all to furnish your own punchline, but it begins with Jimmy saying, ‘No. It wasn’t clever. It was……’ :D

Cya, still wearing that badge and continuing to keep it simple.

Johnt850, tyred out after a tyring week.

And I found myself reading the Sun this week. Occasionally I do. I make no apology. Freedom of speech should be extended to those with whom we disagree. It’s a difficult concept to put into practice.

Anyway, there was a smashing double page spread about someone called Daisy Godwin (novelist and TV producer) who had given up alcohol – not cos she was alcoholically dependent – but cos she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was reconsidering her life and lifestyle.

I could empathise with her in her search for a ‘nice soft drink’, in reassuring any host that she’d be sober but good fun and that ‘life is physically easier – but mentally a little harder.’……which helped when it came to coping with the cancer.

But where I disagree with her is when she suggests going cold turkey and describes it as going somewhere where alcohol is not an option. ‘It is much easier to do it that way than exercising willpower at home.’ Sounds nice. Maybe a spa holiday somewhere.

Maybe it’s just my own experience but my cold turkey was on my own. It involved vomiting, diaorrhea (sp), stuff oozing out of my pores, out-of-body experiences and hallucinations – and a brilliant team of para-medics, doctors, nurses and hospital porters (especially the porters and the stories they told me). But, hey, it worked. Almost nine years ago it was. :)


In recent weeks, there has been a pop picker for the music at the end of the show and a good job she has done :) – this time we go back a few years but I’m sure it’s a track that everyone will recognise. Now which one was Elephant Boy and which one appeared in Coronation Street? Which one later flew to Rio and I’ve no idea what happened to Peter Tork.

When I was a Buddhist, it drove my parents and friends crazy, but when I am a buddha, no-one is upset at all (Anon)

October 23, 2015

And so dear listener, I have survived. You may remember that last week my self-esteem was low cos I’d had a real hit of chocolate after a year without. Chocolate gives pleasure to the brain which wants to repeat the experience cos it was enjoyable but is doing something that is enjoyable over and over again so bad that we have to term it an addiction? Pleasures don’t have to be guilty. ;)

But it is all around. Every supermarket is full of it. Petrol stations. 24 hour shops. All conveniently by the cash till. And all without any age restriction but I believe that I am more than capable of controlled chocolating. Time will tell. Any offer of chocolate cookies considered. :)

Maybe the mindfulness class is helping – being aware of the mind and body in the here and now. A lot of it is kinda meditation – of being aware of your thoughts but mine wander. Even at home I can be in my bedroom and I know my thoughts have popped down to the kitchen. But they come back.

One of my fellow attendees talked of his thoughts being ‘sucked’ back. The Doctor Whovian in me thought that that was quite a strong word – ‘sucked’.

‘No.’ said the lady tutor. ‘You can have gentle sucking as well.’

The silence that followed could well be described as awkward.

It was, however, broken by her sudden guffaw and we broke for five minutes.

So I’m trying to practise the mindfulness in various places. I was sitting in Arnold Clark’s in Bearsden waiting for my car to be serviced (where I read a day old edition of the Herald without realising it was a day old, so what does that say about the Herald?) and tried it. It’s about coming to terms with being somewhere in the present, knowing to can’t go anywhere and enjoying the present.

Anyway, I’m also reading a book about mindfulness and there’s a chapter called Keep It Simple. Now, is that of interest to anyone I wonder? :)

It was also interesting as the last two weeks have seen me more or less Monday to Friday 9 – 5 and that is such a break in my routine of erratic night shifts and working from home. It was really weird. How do people manage?

It was in the Herald that I read of the forthcoming death of Bob Holman, a professor who had dropped that title following his move to Easterhouse many years ago. Easterhouse has played a large part in my education over the years. In my first Post Grad (youth and community worker) I did a placement there in Lochend with the marvellous Margaret Smith and her very refined accent and amazing shoes and her very own flat there. And the Reverend Ron Ferguson who went on to grace Orkney Cathedral and the Iona Community – not bad for a Cowdenbeath fan.

The woman who was later to become my accountant and me went to parties there. They were good.

And then in my latest Post Grad (and no, Skippy, I haven’t totally given up on some kind of academia) I spent something like eleven weeks in a community rehab called Alternatives on the Queenslie Industrial Estate which I thoroughly enjoyed. :)

And I still meet people in the various tearooms of the Fort. :)

Bob Holman is a Christian Socialist and a long time fighter against poverty. He has been diagnosed with MND and given less than one year to live. It was Bob who showed the so-called IDS around Easterhouse in 2002. It was the so-called IDS who fist pumped at the last Budget when Gideon told the world his plans to make poor people poorer.

Enough caring for people and politics…I’ve almost reached my word count. :(

And finally, after watching the movie Macbeth in such delightful company on Friday night, I sat down to watch Fassbender, on Sunday night, in something called (the) Centurion which turned out to be yet another gore-fest of slow-mo slashing of people’s throats. And then on another night this week, I caught more random beheadings on something to do with the Danes in medieval times. I’m not sure what the lesson is but thank goodness I didn’t watch it in 3-D. I’d still be washing the blood out of my hair.

Cya, still wearing that badge and keeping it simple

Johnt850, who used to drive home from the Zombie Haunt, still wearing the make-up and dried blood. Thankfully I was never stopped. Phew……

So after all that ranting, here’s a nice wee story.

Sandra has been my hairdresser for a very long time now. Recently her husband Jim, who uses a wheelchair, was given an MBE in some honours list and a couple of weeks ago, they went down to collect it. They drove down and had everything well planned (No. There is no catch to this story) and they went to the Palace on the Tuesday.

Sandra, whilst cutting my hair, told me her tales of footmen and Princess Anne, who knew Jim cos he’s well known in rugby circles, and the Gurkhas who would only have their pix taken with ‘Mister Jim’ but there was one thing I wanted to know – how did she get on with the parking?

Long-time listeners may remember that on two occasions, in a castle down in Ayrshire (Yes. That one, e) I had bad experiences in doing so – parking in a rose garden, slightly bumping a car and driving off across the lawn.

Sandra fared much better and was guided all the way through by various people in various uniforms before she and Jim entered the Palace. I just find it sooooo coooool that you could go into the famed multi-storey at the likes of UWS (Paisley) and say to your passenger, ‘It was one helluva lot easier parking at Buckingham Palace than it is here.’

So in the true spirit of John Peel this show sees it important that new talent is encouraged so when a friend talked of a band called The Fat Cats I fired up the Google to find out more about them but I found Fat Cats and Phat Cats. ‘Which is it?’ I asked. Answer came there none. :(

Instead here’s a lady who I’ve played once before who is fast growing on me – in a nice way. Brandi Carlile.

‘The Weird Sisters – which way did they go?’ (A line from Macbeth (the movie) and not one I think that was originally written by Shakespeare or his sisters)

October 17, 2015

And so dear listener, much has happened this week but the biggest news is that I’m able to talk to you. :)

We know that I’m not the tekkiest of people (sometimes not even switching on switches that need switched on to get new things working but I may not be alone in that. No names. No pack drill) but this week I surpassed myself. My hard drive on this laptop is almost full and my son has told me not to take the easy way out and just buy a new computer – no, I’ve to clean out stuff and drag things across to external drives and how I miss the fourteen year old who once talked to a helpline on my behalf and then got me a cheese sandwich and a whisky. Or is that wishful thinking? In so many ways. :)

So I got off to a good start. :) Gosh. How many printers have I got through in all these years? And then I got cocky. I think it was the programme I’d had since 2010 and thought I never used. I can’t even find its name now. Lose that one I thought and I’ll save millions of giga mega bytes (whatever). And I hit the button. And everything still worked after that. :)

Until l decided to go out, switched things off and came back and switched on…….I wasn’t even getting ‘Google can’t kick start’; or ‘Facebook can’t start cos of a long running script’ (whatever that is); or ‘you have now cut yourself off from the world and will never receive pictures of cats again!!!!!!’

I had uninstalled the Internet!!!!! No more Filipino ladies wanting to be my friend on Facebook; no facile suggestions from LinkedIn as to my next career move; and no offers from people anxious to claim PPI on my behalf (actually when I think about it…….) but no, I had to do something.

Now (and I’m going to sound like a Church of Scotland minister here and my mum often talked about me becoming one – I’m not too sure what she would think of what I did become)the word ‘recovery’ has played a significant role in my life and there it was in some obscure Devices and Printers folder. I selected a return to two days previously, pressed a button and ran….my hands covering my ears…..but, hey, it came back.

I had sent at least one mail which was just a draft but nothing too shocking seemed to have happened. Certainly nothing like the famous ‘Ho’ text of a year ago. I was now able to talk to the world. As opposed to just my neighbours who are still working on their garden. Phew…….

And whilst I may be slightly re-thinking my current life/work balance one nice thing about the hours I work is my neighbour coming to my door at half past four in the afternoon and saying. ‘I hope I didn’t wake you.’ She was bringing me chocolate biscuits cos I’d taken in deliveries for her. I have not eaten chocolate (properly) for over a year. This week I lapsed. I hated myself. :(

But that was before this week’s mindfulness class which involved a lot of breathing and staying silent. I’m enjoying it. I mean staying silent is my natural approach to life* Breathing is slightly more tricky.

*(When I went to UWS (Paisley) some time back for the Post Grad, I was given definite instructions by e and various others – ‘sit at the back and don’t draw attention to yourself. You are there to learn.’ Day One, Class One, Ice breaker exercise……’Tell the person you’re sitting next to something you want the rest of the class to know’…..Jane (?) sitting next to me told the assembled class, ‘This is John and he’s a recovering alcoholic – four and a half years.’ Heads turned. I was what we were studying. And that was before the incidents with the Inter Library Loans and the revolving door at that entrance and……)

But work will start soon on my own garden…….maybe a Buddhist sanctuary is on the cards. Not for me to move to but to create one. Any thoughts?

And finally, this week’s Rangers’ legend of the month is former favourite Kyle Lafferty, who, after Norn Irln had qualified for a certain football tournament, apparently said, ‘I’d like to play against Argentina or Brazil in the Euros.’

Cya, still wearing that badge and keeping it simple (Well, no. The new badge with the new logo? It fell apart the first time I wore it outside….ooops) :(

Johnt850, and the jury selection ain’t over until the last juror’s selected.

Aye. I was on jury duty this week but was never properly called. It’s been frustrating. The first two days I wasn’t needed at all (nor were the others, I should emphasise – ‘let’s have a trial without jt…..hahahahah’). Wednesday we attended. We were released at mid-day. Thursday a jury was selected (without me) for a trial that was due to last until Monday – the rest of us were released thinking that was it.

No. The hotline message said ‘Come in.’ Apparently, the previous day’s trial had collapsed after fifteen minutes cos there wasn’t enough evidence. I can’t comment cos I wasn’t there but yesterday’s jurors were and the Court person told us;

‘There’s to be a trial today.’ :(

Again I managed to avoid selection but some of the previous day’s jurors weren’t so lucky. I came home, smiling on my face, went and helped people collect leaves in the Botanic Gardens and then watched ‘the Scottish film’ at the scene of the former Hillman Imp factory in Linwood with delightful company. And Saturday I was back to work.

Y’know, being on jury duty is a bit like being without the internet. I did not enjoy it.

So in a week when the legal process has been uppermost in my mind, there is only one man you want to listen to. This is Johnny Cash (and I do know a jolly good Johnny Cash tribute band)

‘Why are you taking air fresheners?’ ‘I’ve never looted before. I just got a bit grabbie.’ (The excellent You, Me and the Apocalypse)

October 9, 2015

And so dear listener, this week was the Fortieth Anniversary of Blue Triangle – the housing association which offers supported accommodation to the homeless and for whom I work –and that was the main function of this week. The anniversary was celebrated in Oran Mor at the top of Byres Road, which is a converted church which was also BBC rehearsal rooms at one stage. It was a celebration and there was an amazing fashion show, a good singing group and some superb creative writing. :)

Yes. I was in charge of the creative writing and, altho’ I can’t say much cos of confidentiality rules online, I thought my two readers – one from Renfrew and one from Syria – stole the show. Altho’, tbh, saying that he was a refugee from Syria raised a cheer in itself. He was reading someone else’s story but some of it applied to him and whilst it’s great that many people want to house refugees when they reach here, some are here already.

It was also one of the most challenging challenges I have ever been challenged by. For so many reasons. Some of which my two guests, e and J, the blog’s favest philosopher, became aware as the day unfolded. Yes. I was only allowed one ticket but if you don’t ask, you don’t get. :)

What happened in the belltower of Oran Mor stays in the belltower of Oran Mor.

But to be incredibly serious for a moment – for me it was a return to presentation and production and what’s involved in that. There was the build up to the event, finding material and choosing the readers and then working with them – that was such fun. :D

And then there was, for me, the fun of presenting – all fifty seconds of it – but the joy of people, including some people very important to me, actually listening and reacting to my words and the joy with which the readers were received.

I once did a guest lecture for drink’n’drugs post grads and my supervisor sat and watched and gave me feedback which was incredibly kind. Something he said will always stick with me; ‘I needn’t ask if you enjoyed it. Johnt850 plus an audience? You enjoyed it.’ There is thinking to be done.

And then the three of us went for coffee and cake. I wasn’t sure what e had chosen so I said,

‘Is that a white chocolate fondant or a meringue?’

‘No,’ she said. ‘You’re right enough. It’s a white chocolate fondant.’

Which brings us nicely to the Great British Bake Off which I didn’t see cos I watched a documentary about Denis Healey which was really good and whilst the rest of Facebookland discussed Victoria Sponges, Nessa and I discussed the D Day Dodgers and Denis’s amazing sense of humour.

Anyway I did see the final line-up. It was either a reflection of how diverse British society is or how politically correct the BBC now is or Britain First’s worst nightmare. I saw a documentary about them as well this week.

Horrible people but masters of social media and the knowledge that no matter what rubbish they post or out of date it is, if it’s on Facebook or similar, it must be true.

And my testament to the existence of Qi Gong as a method of relaxation was doubted so this vid is an example of it.

It is a variation of the imaginary balloon I create when trying to get rid of my worries.

And the transformation of next door’s garden continues. They’ve moved their sheds; laid new turf and built a sunhouse. It has spurred me into action. Not only am I painting the fence slowly but I have arranged for approximately sixteen slabs to be laid at the back door. It’s enough for me. But it will see my garden transformed.

What it will do for me, I’m not sure.

And finally, I have been cited for jury duty. It’s at Glasgow Sheriff Court and whilst they are normally short cases at this court, I did receive a letter advising me that, if called, the trial could last up to two weeks.

Interestingly enough both J and e* believe it could be the making of me and that I should welcome the opportunity to contribute to a civic and democratic society. I will do my duty.

*I should stress that I have spoken to other people this week and done many other things. Oh. Hang on. I haven’t really….other than work things and people………ah but I did watch Ice Age 2.

Anyway the point I must make is that I can’t discuss the court case in any form. Who knows what I’ll write about next week?

Cya, now wearing a new badge with a new logo and keeping it simple.

Johnt850, in a smiley mood. :) :) :) :)

And I watched the programme about legal highs last Monday and I can’t remember what its proper name was but it was Monday BBC 1 Scotland at 9pm.

And I mentioned it on Facebook as a way of sharing and there were a few responses. Mostly they came from people I know in the trade. It was a programme that I would recommend is watched by parents….of any age. In the last couple of years I have spoken to a number of folk of college and uni-age who know people who do ‘legals’ but won’t themselves. A brilliant attitude cos they are aware of the dangers………..but most of them also had parents who were willing to discuss the whole issue of drugs (including drink and fags) with them. Do you? Did you?

And never forget, dear listener, I went off the rails in my late forties.

Heading back, and no connection, to the Fortieth Anniversary, check out soon time on iTunes or just a general Google for the BlueTriangle House Choir called Pure Gallus;

They sang two songs on Thursday. This is the one that stayed in the heads of me, J and e. It was a good day………It is, these are the Proclaimers;

The trouble with bookshops is that they are as bad as pubs. You start at one and you drift to another and before you know where you are, you are on a gigantic book-binge (R T Campbell)

October 4, 2015

And so dear listener, I am about to enter a period when confidentiality becomes of the utmost. Not only have I been told that my Sheriff Court jury duty may last up to two weeks, but I have started an evening class, where people may decide to bare/bear their soles/souls. I have been here before and what I will avoid is reference to actual people; the class itself……..?

It is mindfulness based stress reduction. Yes. It is. Now mindfulness was described to me by J, the blog’s favest philosopher, as a better understanding of the here and now and that is a fairly good representation of it. J also has a very literary background which often finds me starting up the Google just so I don’t appear the kinda cretin who, one Embra Festival, thought a play devoted to Nijinsky was about the horse and not the ballet dancer. :)

And I can get round it cos the class seems to be based around a book with eight chapters and much of what we do is to discuss some of the things raised in the book and then practise them.

Which brings me, dear listener, to ‘mindful eating’. At the end of the evening, dried fruit was passed around and we all had to take some. Okay, my first mistake was to start eating before I was supposed to but, being a greedy bastard, I still had some left. Basically the tutor chap talked us through experiencing the activity and getting us to be aware of tasting, licking, salivating and then biting.

Tbh, I found it mildly erotic. Which, I don’t think, was its aim. Luckily the word mastication was not used or I’d have corpsed. It was like a fruit pastilles advert of years ago. But I enjoyed it. Some of the periods of silence were good. :)

The first time I’d ever experienced a group silence (and let’s leave Partick Thistle out of this) was in Alternatives Community Rehab in Easterhouse where relaxation techniques are used cos many people recovering from substance dependency find it difficult to relax. My first experience of this was in a room where I knew none of the eighteen people and worried for an hour – by maybe the third time, I was beginning to relax. I also did acudetox (five and five since you ask) and that one where they light a candle and stick it in your ear. That’s a good one. :D

People often comment on my relaxed state. I did talk recently about getting some new garden furniture but e laughed, saying I don’t sit down long enough to make it worthwhile. She’s right. I’d an uncle in the Milton in Glasgow who, in the days of just two channels, couldn’t stop getting up and down to change them. This family also introduced me to the joys of eating chips and potato fritters –mmmm, two ways of deep frying potatoes……

And then the Chinese put a pineapple in one of theirs and the culinary world was never the same again. :)

Anyway, I must be mindful of my word count limit and move myself on.

Incidentally, I went to the zoo the other day. There was only one animal in it. It was a dog. It was a shitzu.

And I can’t help but feel that a TV ad for the Vanish Tip Exchange is an advert for the product Vanish. No. No reason.

And finally, I got some really nice good wishes from the zombies (and the run has started – http://scotlandsthemepark.com/event/outbreak-mds/#.Vg7E7I2FPIU ) especially Michelle, Zoe and Sophie to give them their human names. Sophie said something really interesting; she reads the blog with her morning cup of tea. If this were really a radio programme, then the obvious question would be – where do you read yours? So. Where? ;)

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

Johnt850, absolutely cream-crackered

There’s a programme on BBC 1 Scotland on Monday night at 9pm looking at legal highs in Scotland.

One question, I’m often asked about legal highs is, why are they legal? Basically they’re not illegal. Originally they were plants that gave you a slightly similar buzz to cannabis but now they’re newly made drugs made to bypass existing laws. By stating that they are not ‘for human consumption’ or that they are ‘bath salts’ or ‘room odourisers’, sellers get away with selling them legally.

I have seen their effect on people and it can be horrible but the Queen has said she’ll do something about them and I trust her.

Y’see if all potent substances had the same legal quality controls that drugs such as alcohol and tobacco do, then there wouldn’t be a demand for ‘legal highs’ but watch the programme and see what you think. I know what I think…….

As requested, here’s Maclemore and Ryan Lewis……

“I love zombies. If any monster could Riverdance, it would be zombies.” (Craig Ferguson)

September 25, 2015

And so dear listener wasn’t Monday a marvellous day for a blogger? No. I don’t mean that business with ‘Call Me Dave’ Cameron and the sucking pig…..Sorry. I mean suckling pig. No. I mean the things that happened to me. Altho’my favest headline of the week came from the ironical Daily Record.


Or as Kenneth Williams never said;

‘Irony. Irony. They’ve all got it irony.’ :D

No. Monday started for me at five to nine when BBC Radio Scotland phoned to ask if I was willing to be their first phone call after nine in a phone-in programme just after the news at nine on whether people should speak out about their cancer (if they have one) – to which I said YES – but I then got a phone call just after nine to stand me down. They’d got ‘an expert’!!!!!! Who wasn’t me!!!!!! Aye Right. I’ll remember that. :(

But this was all of great interest to me as later that day I was due to meet up with someone from Prostate Cancer UK at Prostate Cancer UK HQ in Ibrox. I got there with a few minutes to spare and went for a walk (I sooooooo need to lose weight) and walked past a bar called, I think, Kensington’s. It was a nice day and people were sitting outside.

Including one man in a suit with shaved head who looked like a local businessman – a ‘player’ as they say on the streets. And he was wearing a Prostate Cancer badge. :)

I did think about going up and introducing myself, but a rather well-built man standing beside him seemed to be deciding who got to say hello. :(

The conversation with Anne was wide-ranging. But it was not about information talks – which are designed to tell people about the Charity with a personal story of survival thrown in and not a reprise of the latest treatments and research which might put people off.

Instead we discussed how to get a sick eel to a vet and there was an unfortunate misunderstanding when I thought Anne said badges but she said badgers. This would explain the unfortunate stain on my lapel later in the day.

I then went to my bank where there had been an unfortunate misunderstanding over a previous meeting. I met Michael who had Gone Ape in Aberfoyle four times but had never abseiled down the Titan Crane. He did do marathons but had never run Tough Mudder altho’ one of his female colleagues had. He also wanted to be a journalist and had a relative with alcohol issues. At some point a Fixed Rate One Year Bond was opened…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

And he’d heard about the zombies but had never been. He was booking his tickets for him and his mates as I was leaving. But he won’t see me there.

I’ve decided. I won’t be doing it this year. Yes. I had a major encourager-in-chief in my (now erstwhile) friend, W, but I have heard nothing from her for some time. But it is nothing to do with that.

And yes, I have a very busy time coming up cos I’m heavily involved (as are others) in the Fortieth Anniversary of Blue Triangle and that is taking up a lot of time at the moment. That is why I never made it to Hope Over Fear the other day. And then there’s jury duty. But it is nothing to do with that.

And I’ve not fallen out with such an amazing bunch of folk and I’m looking forward to reading their posts and seeing the photos.

No. It’s when the bank man was talking about going to Go Ape four times. I couldn’t do that. I would worry about what was next cos I know the rope ladders get narrower and the bridge between the trees gets more rickety. Other zipwires are available…and I’d be happy to try them.

No. The most amazing thing about last year was the randomness of it all – all totally unexpected from the Saturday morning audition to running with the zombies that night to driving up the road still with the make-up on to following Bethany around the haunt and the guy who swore so badly when I leaped at him that even I couldn’t repeat it in the blog. Those are amazing memories. I will stick to them but every so often I may drive out to the roundabout at M & Ds and listen to the bloodcurdling screams. :D :D :D :D


But as my second favest philosopher, Uni-Sharon says, ‘there’s life after being a zombie.’ (EH?)

And finally, I felt comfortable in that jacket. I must wear it more often

Cya, still wearing that badger and keeping it simple.

Johnt850, described in ASDA the other day as having the Richard Gere look :)

And the rainforestriverman was up and we went for lunch and the subject of our own time at university came up…….we didn’t, did we? I don’t remember doing that……but I do seem to remember helping to move your bed with you in it from the Union to the traffic island opposite. Ah, how little I have in common with the current Prime Minister. ;)

In the days of Gerry and the Pacemakers and Freddie and the Dreamers and the Beatles (whatever happened to them?) one man strode the world like the Colossus he was. I was going to play another of his tunes but it would have been an unfortunate mix as the awful Saville (who I met once and who disgusted me cos of his attitudes towards women) would have been in it.

This is the God that is Billy J Kramer with ‘Bad To Me’ and not only do I have a jacket but I do have two suits – one of which my son was giving to a charity shop and I intercepted it…but I don’t have BIlly’s hair. Does anyone these days? :)


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