“While we wait for good things to happen for ourselves, we can do good things for other people.” Rangel

November 16, 2017

And so, dear listener, I need your help. Some of you know how to contact me directly; some of you are on my Facebook; and some of you can leave comments at the bottom of this page. So don’t hold back. Thank you.

However it might be better if I told you what help I needed. 😉

Y’see it is now four months since I handed in my notice to Blue Triangle Housing Association with no idea of where to go/what to do next and three months since it took effect. It wasn’t quite a Gavin Docherty moment but my leaving of the BBC in 2004 certainly was. I walked out of the newsroom and never went back. 😀

So, as you know, I have since started work as assessor-candidate for SVQs and that’s happening and it is a long-term project – given my age, possibly my last ever. The main source of current income was to be the editing and proof-reading but that had been running slow. The third element of my new positivity was to be a night class and I chose An Introduction to Social Psychology. All that and the blog and friends but for once I’m not talking about them. It’s not that I’ve fallen out with any – that I’m aware – but I’m being a wee cautious at the moment.

So the common characteristic to all of that (including some of the elements of the friendship) is the laptop…….and
I realised I was spending more time in my back bedroom a.k.a the office or the HUB, than I wanted to, so something had to give and it was the nightclass.

I was just not settling into it so I contacted the tutor and resigned. I explained the laptop reasoning and he said he had empathy for my position and when a psychologist says that, then you know he means it. 🙂

It wasn’t as much as fun as some classes I’ve been at, in particular last year’s Gaelic 1. There was, for example, the night when me and Katie from Oxfam (and there were other pairings that night) teamed up to discuss forthcoming Christmas TV programmes in Gaelic which I’ve got to say was extremely good fun (and Joy was a fun teacher and was also at Duaisean Gaidhlig Na H-Alba 2017)*

And then there was the night (and I had rehearsed it) when I announced the birth of my grandson in Gaelic. It had been expected but when Joy asked in Gaelic, ‘has anyone any news?’ I put my hand up and just said, ‘Me miss, me miss.’ And told the class everything. 😀 😀

I have previous for this. When son Brian was born, it was announced, not in the pages of the Glasgow Herald, but on BBC Radio Scotland by the great Jimmy Mack. It may have reached further than Glasgow because when a real mutual friend phoned her mum to tell her that me and my then wife had had a baby, the mutual friend was told, ‘We know and not only do we know but so does the rest of Scotland.’ 😉 x

So, that’s a wee update on my life three months down the road (and the editing’s going well again) and something’s missing (and no I don’t mean the fact that I live alone. Have I ever mentioned that?).

No, I need something else in my life that is not dominated by the laptop.

And if it provides an income stream, then so much the better but fresh air might be more of a priority. I’m open to any offer (story of my life) and I’m willing to take my time. At my age, even with my medically normal knees, that’s almost inevitable. 🙂

Any ideas? You know where to find me.

I’m iaint580. Try me.

*And finally, Buidheann Disathairne won the Learner Award in this year’s Duaisean Gaidhlig Na H-Alba 2017 at Glasgow Grand Central Hotel. Gle mhath! to e and c and all concerned. I’ve never been but I’ve heard so much about it. 😀 😀 😀

Cya, back to wearing either the Prostate Cancer badge or the Big Sky badge and hopefully keeping it simple – still

Iaint850, awaiting the offer of Kremlin gold – so I can reject it.

So, as we get closer to the end of the year and the Blog Personality of the Year Awards, maybe just a wee bit about music as there is a Track of the Year category and there’s no reason why the Personality has to be a person or why indeed it has to relate to this year.

So, on Ricky Ross’s Country prog on BBC Radio Scotland this week he played tracks suggested by some of the people he’d featured over the last few weeks. One of them was Marty Stuart whose gig at Oran Mor, I was reliably informed, by someone who was there, was one of the gigs of the year and I do know folk (well, one) who play in a Johnny Cash tribute band called Jericho Hill. 😀

So, Johnny always starts off by saying, ‘Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” and there’s an Alabama 3 track which begins with those words and seeing them almost exactly one year ago with J was one of the highlights of my last twelve months and, indeed, the last eleven years (I’m never sure if other people understand recovery but that night made sense of the previous ten years in soooooo many ways) and they’re coming back to Glasgow this coming March. No. No reason.

Marty chose this track.


‘Another email from a collector in Edinburgh who has 13,000 books to sell. I replied asking for more information’ (Bythell)

November 10, 2017

And that quote was from the very, very lovely Diary of a Bookseller recommended to me by the very, very lovely Craig Williams of the BBC who produced the very, very lovely documentary Donald Trump, Scotland’s President still available on the reasonably attractive BBCiPlayer. 😉

And I remember someone recommending a second hand bookshop in Wemyss Bay which I’d love to visit but I still have a soft spot for Voltaire and Rousseau down Otago Lane – if it’s still there. The lane that is.

And so dear listener, let me apologise for last week’s show. It was awful. An idea didn’t work and I should have walked away from it. I used to do a lot more walking than I’m currently doing. There’s a wee tekkie problem putting a new MP3 player together with my recent (couple of years) interest in country music. Maybe one day. And a couple of other tekkie issues.

And it doesn’t help that I live alone (have I ever mentioned that?) and there’s no-one other than Skippy to read it before transmission.

This living alone can cause problems in other directions. For example, I was cutting my toe-nails the other day – a difficult operation at the best of times. The scissors slipped and the pointy bit went directly into the toe next to the one I was cutting, causing blood to emerge. The obvious thing to do would be to get an Elastoplast on it. Other plasters are available but they’re not as good.

The Elastoplasts are kept in a cupboard over there. But I don’t want blood all over the floor. One hand has toilet paper stopping the blood and the other is single-handedly opening the cupboard and the plaster box, pulling one out that’s the right size, opening it without the two sticky sides sticking together and wrapping it around the toe – just. Blood is still seeping but the box is now empty. 😦

There is another box. For some reason, these are colourful and luminous. And small. But one is enough to wrap around the toe in a slightly different direction to the first one. And I breathe silently and happily and there is blood on the floor and on a towel and three toe-nails remain to be cut. Carefully.

Occasionally, I still feel a small whisky would be justified but luckily these moments are few and quickly pass when I put on a reasonably new CD by Steve Earle. Which I don’t think is very good. Yet.

But let’s take a minute to discuss another aspect of my physical health – my knees. They have been x-rayed and the word from the doctor is they are normal. I have no idea what this means and may pop in to find out more.

But they feel better – well, one of them does. I think I’ll be fine. 🙂

And on the mental health front, I had to explain to someone that my depression was not just being ‘unhappy’ but, amongst other things, was an unwillingness to interact with people. How unlike my student days.

Did you know that on this week, just past, in 1964 the new Queen Margaret Hall of Residence was opened in Bellshaugh Road, Kelvindale? It got knocked down in 2000 and turned into more of a student flat type accommodation.

I was there, dear listener, something like 1972-74 and if I say that it was there that a boy became a man, need I elaborate?

But I made a lot of friends there and it was there I first wrote comedy, did a Toast to the Lasses and played mixed hockey – just as deadly serious as the all-male hockey I played for the university. At first team level. 😀

Then I moved into a flat in Woodlands with three others and that noise you can hear is that of a veil being drawn.

But I did get my first degree. Just.

And finally, it’s too easy to pour scorn on Donald Trump but what little, if any, respect I had for the man disappeared when, in Japan, he tipped a whole box of fish food into a pond of koi carp…..and, in doing so, killed them. The bastard!!!!

I used to keep coldwater fish. Okay so it’s not in the same league as koi carp, but they meant a lot to me.

And I do remember being in somebody’s house in Orkney about four years ago and one of their interior walls was one side of a fish tank full of Pacific Ocean fish. Seriously amazing.

Tioraidh, still wearing this year’s poppy and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, who, like everyone else, is keen to hear the results of Duaisean Gaidhlig Na H-Alba 2017 which will be announced in the Glasgow Central Hotel on the 15th November. No. No reason. 🙂 But my money’s on Buidheann Disathairne.

So somebody told me the other day that they were never sure whether to give money to the homeless people ‘begging’ in the streets.

‘After all’, she said, ‘is there not a chance they might spend it on drinks and drugs?’

‘Possibly, or they could buy food,’ said I. ‘but at least you’re giving them an option they didn’t have until you gave them that money.’

And I got a strange look.

I also met the Big Issue seller I buy from on an unusual pitch, which was distributing the Stylist outside Queen Street Station. She’s an Eastern European lady from Kinning Park. Anyway I’m standing talking to her and it’s difficult cos I don’t understand Eastern European and another lady (not Eastern European but more Milngavie) took a Stylist from my friend but when I cheerily shouted, ‘thanks’, I got another strange look.

Altho’ I openly admit to my interest in country music being recently recent, my interest in Steve Earle and the Dixie Chicks goes back to 2003 and the Second Gulf War when they both spoke out against that war and were removed from various playlists. I tried to get them both onto a radio programme I was working on at the time. In Glasgow. I failed.

This is/these are the Dixie Chicks:

I myself am made entirely of flaws stitched together with good intentions (Augusten Burroughs)

November 2, 2017

And so dear listener, it is over a week since the clocks changed but I am still feeling the effects. 😦

I cope with the actual mechanics of the change okay. I copy my dad from many years ago who changed all the clocks and watches in the house the night before and everything was run by clockwork (in every sense of the word) 🙂 I do some of that.

The first timepiece to be changed is my £9.99 Casio watch which keeps good time and is the official stopwatch for one part of the North Stand (red’n’yellow) at Partick Thistle. It’s one of the many skills I developed as radio producer and within one second I can tell you how long there is to go to the end of a football match whilst diving to a depth of 50 metres which is remarkable as I can’t swim but anything is possible with a Casio. 😀

I have a friend with a real Rolex which runs slow and when he took it to a well known jeweller to get it fixed, he was told, ‘It’s a Rolex. They run slow.’ Go Casio! Go!

The last timepiece to be touched is the Impossible Task: the Car Clock. I don’t understand why it doesn’t change itself. It’s on a DAB radio like the one in my bedroom and it changes itself – altho’ tbh it’s only tuned to one radio station.

I could read the instructions but I’m terrified that I muck up my existing selection and then I’ll need to invent a reason to go to Arnold Clark’s to get someone there to reset them for me. No, for the next six months, I will have to look at my watch before I look at the car clock to see what time it is.

And then there’s the effect it has on my sleep pattern. I have recovered from the daytime shift system that I was working under just before I left but I do wake up too early and my mind (and indeed my body) is fully functioning at about 6. Most mornings these days I don’t need to get up until back of 7 if not later.

I could read but these days there are no books on my bedside cabinet as I don’t read in bed. I am asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow (I live alone. I don’t know if people know that)…..I’ll work something out.

One of the nice things about night shifts was going home on a Monday morning (07.30) as all the stereotypes from Bearsden and Milngavie were ending their fun-filled weekends. I was going home to bed and, if it was a frosty morning, I would put the blanket on while I washed my clothes from the night before and showered. By nine I’d be toasty and fast asleep whilst the businesspeople of Glasgow were beginning to make an assault on the weekend’s emails. 😀

But some things in my life are returning to normal.

Partick Thistle are picking up points again and I overheard a conversation outside a lift where Rangers’ fans were discussing a possible new manager and the name Alan Archibald came up; Celtic did really well in Europe and the star players were those that Gordon Strachan ignored in favour of an English Championship reserve; and I may not see a game this coming month. There’s only two and they’re both away. I am open to suggestions. 😉

I may do some work on my SVQ stuff and I’ve found a marvellous website telling me some things I was frightened to ask about after a recent meeting. I’ll be fine.

The editing’s beginning to happen again and, as ever, my thanks go to the Chinese community of Glasgow for spreading my name around. Aren’t they nice people? 🙂

And finally, I’m beginning to attend my psychology evening class regularly. I have an essay coming up soon and if there’s one thing I do know it’s how to structure an essay. What the difference is between schema and heuristics I’m not too sure but again I’m sure I’ll be fine.

Tioraidh, and currently wearing a poppy instead of my usual badge but still keeping it simple

Iaint850, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

So eleven months ago I came to a decision. It happened as I took the train back up the road (eh?) having been to see an amazing gig in the company of J who very bravely 🙂 had volunteered (eh?) to come with me to see a band called Alabama 3.

The occasion? It was exactly ten years to the day and date since I’d cold turkeyed and A3 had been a big part of that recovery.

The decision? To stop thinking how long it had been – to quite happily accept that it was ten years and I was simply a guy who did not drink. Never to mention the anniversary again.

The other day I was out at UWS in Paisley an educational institute with which I have been associated for just over six years. So much has happened over those eleven years – much of it good; some of it not so good – but enough to make me realise that it is worth continuing getting the message across. It is not an incurable disease – it needs basic behavioural change, some things worth staying sober for and friends and family who help you think about other things. 🙂

So come 10th December this year, I will say ‘eleven years’ in various places and smile enigmatically.

Did they play this, j?

It’s like you have to be strong for everyone else but they forget to ask if you’re okay.

October 26, 2017

And so dear listener, this week I experienced a feeling I have not experienced for some time but is it right that a man, my age, should experience that feeling. Sorry? Oh, first day nerves, that’s what I mean. I have now seriously started as an SVQ assessor-candidate who is to get assessed as an assessor assessing candidates.

Some people, such as j, seemed to pick it up straightaway but others, like me, have to keep everything in a separate pile in my head and it’s not easy, having piles in your head. 😦

And I don’t think I ever told you, dear listener, what an SVQ assessor does.

NVQ/SVQ assessors help and assess people who are working towards National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) or Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs). In doing so, they make sure that the candidates meet the required standards.

And, yes, that is Copy and Paste. Did you notice? Any questions?

Yes. I am looking forward to yet another new career. In order to get it all on my CV I am now using font size 8.5 and A3 paper. And have I finished yet? What would be nice would be to get my income back up to pre-resignation levels but with the same free time I had before.

And there are some signs that the editing might be kicking off again and my thanks go to the marketing team for their sparkling efforts. 😀

Ah, that lovely word ‘team’. I have met people who say things like ‘there’s no ‘I’ in team.’

To which I reply, ‘Yeah, but there’s a ‘me’.’

But then I’m the kinda guy who criticises the well-known Pavlov’s dogs experiment cos no-one asked the dogs – and to me that’s a fundamental flaw. 🙂

Ah, yes…..team. Last week a couple of photos appeared on Facebook showing the BBC Radio Scotland team who covered the Commonwealth Games of 1986. One photo showed us on our way to the closing night disco (yes, disco – and it may even have been Tom Ferrie who was the deejay) and the other was in the bunker we called home for the fortnight. 🙂

I was a producer and, in addition to everything else, was responsible for putting together a two minute sports news after the main news. With me? And I had a presenter to read it.

Except one night, at about half past ten, I was sitting with a pint in the BBC Club next to the bunker and became aware I had no reporter. I had to do it. And so dear listener, I had the amazing privilege of saying, ‘And now the moment all Scotland has been waiting for….’

And played a piece of tape that was Liz Lynch winning her Gold medal before reading out some results from the shooting at Barry Budden in Angus and then back to the hotel for my second pint of the night. This one well deserved.:D

And as I write this, speaking of matters athletic, I’ve still not heard back about my x-rays of last week. But it has not stopped me walking. One jolly interesting and recent walk was with e and Holly the Dog though the Botanic Gardens and its environs. We helped reunite a young girl with her dad; cheered on some young athletes; and remenisced (sp?) about our pasts and one shop in particular. Anyone who ever lived West-endish in the seventies and a wee bit beyond will remember Goodies – the first ever twenty-four hour dairy I had ever known; pints of milk and chocolate biscuits after two in the morning; a strange woman who seemed to sit in the same seat 24/7; and a very unhygienic cat who sat in the window, seemingly, also for a full day at a time.

Yes, we have Tesco’s in Maryhill and the Asda in Govan – both of which are also twenty-four hours a day but they lack the magic of Goodies. 🙂

And finally, I did go to see George Monbiot – a man with some very interesting ideas. I would have thought it of interest to anyone claiming to have environmental credentials or looking for original thinking. Maybe those who missed it were too busy slagging each other off on Facebook

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

Iaint850, and surely I’m not the only person who still says Bloody Norah.

And I was talking to a friend recently and she was telling me of her recent regular visit to a Costa Coffee Shop (and other chainstore coffee shops are available) and she spotted someone she hadn’t seen for some time.

‘Is everything okay?’ she asked.

‘I’m cutting back on caffeine.’

‘Well there’s plenty of good de-caff stuff out there these days.’

‘No. It’s not that. I just don’t have the money these days.’

This was in a douce, middle class town not that far from Glasgow. I had travelled there by train and before I got the train back to Glasgow I bought a newspaper. The vendor was smiling and whistling. I asked him why he was so cheery.

‘The Tory Party is falling apart at the seams. We’ve got them on the run.’

The two conversations prove nothing except to add to my sadness that so much political debate takes place online by people just shouting at each other. Politics is about real people – not sitting in front of a laptop shouting at people through your keyboard.

Why not help out at a foodbank?

There’s often a single piece of music that you hear on all the radios stations you listen to as part of your regular listening pattern – in my case Radio 1 and Clyde 1 in the car and often Chris Country at home – but often you tire of it. Not this time.

This is Pink and What About Us. Stick with the video. It gives an extra meaning to the song.

‘Ankles are nearly always neat and good-looking, but knees are nearly always not.’ (Pres Dwight D Eisenhower who also served as a US General; the current President never served and it shows)

October 19, 2017

And so dear listener, ex-hurricane Ophelia came and went and caused deaths and havoc in Ireland but by the time it got here, it had run out of puff and whilst it still did some damage it was not on the scale it might have been.

I watched it on TV and some memories came back; not of other ex-hurricanes but of my teens in Peterhead before I moved down to Glasgow and never left. 😀

If we leave aside the prison, Peterhead is best known these days as the biggest white fish port in Europe and as a base for North Sea oil and I’m pleased to have played a part in both of those – one as a regular holiday job with Peterhead Harbours as a Clerk to the Collector of Shore Dues and the other as a radio operator from BOC base to rigs and supply vessels with the call sign Barge 701. 🙂

But before Peterhead Harbours were (re-)developed they were a playground of nooks, crannies and places away from parental eyes. What was known as the North Breakwater was brilliant for guys with some cans of lager on a sunny Saturday night listening to David Symonds and John Peel on a large tranny (I’m not even going to bother explaining that) 😀

Winters were bad in Peterhead as its location meant that it was exposed to the North Sea on several sides. So when the weather was really bad and nights were dark we played a game of chicken by seeing who could climb up the steps to the top of the North Harbour sea wall and stay standing when the next wave came over.

Simple, if damp, pleasures. 😉

Once, somebody, not one of us, didn’t actually stay standing when a wave came over and we never played that game again.

Moving silently on.

And I opened a new bottle of Listerine the other day and just took the first slug from the bottle. A memory came back.

And I did make it to my Psychology evening class this week where the tutor was discussing altruism and gave us a brilliant example by explaining how supremely altruistic bees were as they had no hesitation in giving up their lives to save the hives by stinging aggressors knowing they would die by doing that but those of us who had read Laline Paull’s The BEES (either on kindle or as a book) knew that anyway.

Anyway, I was at the doctor’s this week. Went there with my knees. Well it would have been difficult not to. I can walk for miles with e and Holly the Dog and other people but boy, can I feel it going up stairs – especially the semi-spiral ones here at t850towers. So I got an open invite to an X-ray unit, that just needed a letter from my GP, and I got a flu jab whilst I was there. Strange not to jag a vein.

And we both agreed I was over the depression – mainly because I’d found its pretty big cause and was using basic coping mechanisms again to bring back an air of positivity…..kinda Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. And walking.

Positivity’s good at the moment. The SVQ Assessor thing is taking the time it was always going to take but I am a wee bit concerned at the lack of editing. One problem is the lack of open noticeboards. I was in the Students Association Building at GCAL and the cleaners were still there and I got the feeling that the cleaners were defying me to be the first to stick a poster up on the newly painted pillar. Lesson? Go back later in the day. 😉


And finally, please excuse me while I catch up on some personal stuff.

Jenny H – delighted to help out with the research project at UWS (Paisley)

e – well done to AJ on his medal at the National Mod and looking forward to the pics

Sharon – congrats on the latest edition to the family

Caroline – I think that’s the right decision and still happy to help

J – thanks for the cracking knees stories

Alan Archibald (PT manager) there’s nothing to worry about (at this stage)

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

iaint850, beginning to get bored but I still have the price of two coffees. And the odd curry or similar. 😉

So comedian Sean Hughes died during the week. I knew of him from Never Mind the Buzzcocks fame but I became aware from social media how much other people regarded his talents.

I was saddened, therefore, to read the next day that he had died of a liver disease following ‘years of hedonism’. He was 51. I am 63. I was 52 when I stopped drinking but it was not a choice I made; cold turkey made it for me.

But I was also saddened when I read that, at one time, he had been off drink for a couple of years but his sobriety made his friends uncomfortable, and when he started again his friends ‘welcomed him back’. That’s sad. For me, the help of friends was, and still is, the biggest factor in me not needing alcohol.

On one or two occasions I was told, ‘you’ve obviously got it under control. Why not just the one drink?’ Eh, no thanks. I just don’t drink, but not ‘worried’ about a disease that doesn’t exist.

However, I have known several people for whom being sober, and therefore, boring is a concern. I don’t think that can ever be said about me and I enjoy the clear head I now have but I can still be a pain.

But one of the nice things about writing this blog is the occasional responses I get. I know not everyone listens to the music I play at the end altho’ I make it as easy as I can. Maybe people still think I’m going through the techno/trance phase. Therefore, I am happy to play Rihannon Giddens again.

You’re not lost if you know where you’ve been (Alice in Wonderland)

October 12, 2017

And so dear listener, last week I attended an exhibition I would never have expected to attend – at Kelvingrove Art Gallery. It was a celebration of seventy years of Alcoholics Anonymous in Scotland. Obviously the anonymity of those involved made it difficult to tell the story – ‘Sir Phillip D’ has less impact than ‘Lord Dundas’ who openly spoke about his involvement at the time – and one of the Traditions does say

‘Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion’

And the result was just a very poor video and some large posters of the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions.

I’m not as against AA as some people think and it does have an amazing story. I just think the world has moved on since the thirties and there are better, more positive ways, of dealing with problem drinking. But if it works, it works. Maybe somebody should write a daytime soap based on the work of a Community Addiction Worker. :p

Also I don’t like the way that people related to it make definitive statements without citing any research – a bit like people on social media.

I once heard someone publicising her book about ‘alcoholism’ (but not the fellowship) and she claimed that we know addiction is caused by a faulty gene. Eh, no we don’t as no research has proved that and that only comes from people who’d like to prove that.

I do sooooo wish people would not make off-the-cuff judgements about genetics without having some valid research to back up what they’re saying….but we can only speculate what might have happened if Mr Strachan had continued to play Leigh Griffiths on his own up front with a packed midfield.

Mr Strachan is keen on saying things along the lines of, ‘you’ve never been a manager, you don’t know what it’s like.’

Prof Darren Griffin of the University of Kent got his Master’s in Genetics in 1992 and he says that the average height of the Scots is a little bit taller than the Spaniards, the Portuguese, the Brazilians and the Argentinians. I go with the Prof.

Genetics – the final excuse for twenty years of failure to qualify.

Moving swiftly on.

Last week I drew attention to friend Jill’s blog. This week I want to highlight another blog which, this week, deals with the subject of casual sex from a female perspective. I know the writer and she is Catherine – a former student of mine from about ten years ago. There has been another blog published on this site since the casual sex one but any and all that Catherine writes are worth reading.


It’s not something I’ve spoken much about. From any perspective. References to me and sex have tended to be more historic than current. Or in some feature stuff about me, sex and Prostate Cancer in the Daily Record a wee while back. Lots of reasons – one of which involved Andrew Lloyd-Webber. 🙂

Indeed, sometimes it’s been difficult enough to talk about alcohol and cancer issues, which are all in the past cos of tremendous help from family and friends, which, thankfully, does not include Tory party leader in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, whose advice for anyone suffering a ‘nervous breakdown’ was to ‘man up’. No, I’m not sure what she means by that even if she was referring to the Tories.

Right. Let’s lighten things up a bit. 😀

First, Skippy and me would like to welcome Alexis Jessica Kelly into the world. News came in as we went on air. More next week 🙂

My thanks to those who have seen my new haircut and everyone seems to like it. It is a good haircut but I miss the locks with which I can play. As I have explained, the current length goes back to the start of eight weeks of radiotherapy several years ago. It may sound egotistical but I wanted to emphasise my relative youth compared with the others receiving the same treatment.

And I do know a former BBC colleague who is due to receive a similar treatment and was in hospital to get measured up for the tattoos (or whatever they use these days) which make sure that the lasers hit the right spot.

My tattoos, basically three dots, weren’t very good. The (mainly female) nurses who helped line me up often had to use a felt pen to make sure they were properly highlighted. They also used to enjoy making witty comments like ‘I can’t see the wood for the trees.’ 🙂

All the hair in that part of my body was burnt off – and very comfortable it was too…….and still is.

And finally, you may be wondering how I got on in my second class in Social Psychology. Well, I didn’t go. In true student fashion, I spent the afternoon in the pub. Basically I met up for lunch with a couple of friends and former work colleagues for lunch and stayed on a wee while after the food bit. I would stress that one worker was on her day off and the other had just finished her shift.

I would also like to say thanks to Hengler’s Circus (the Wetherspoons in Sauchiehall Street) for having a more sensible size of glass for my orange juice than your colleagues in the China/Crystal Palace in Jamaica Street. 😀

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still happily keeping it simple. Honest.

Iaint850, the Samson of Summerston (with my shorn locks) but no, no Delilah.

In my first time at university and, indeed, my first Post Grad at Jordanhill College, I was involved in putting bands and artistes on at various events. They ranged from the Glitter Band (without Gary) and Alvin Stardust (a really nice guy) to more folkie bands like the JSD Band, Contraband (with Mae McKenna) and, of course, Silly Wizard (with Phil Cunningham).

Phil now does a lot of television and has recently been presenting a three part series called Wayfaring Strangers on BBC 2 which is well worth watching on iPlayer (Tuesday nights at 7) particularly this week just past when country music was featured.

This is the title track sung by the lovely, both in voice and in looks, Rhiannon Giddens accompanied by Phil.

When Words Fail, Music Speaks (Lyrics Mania)

October 5, 2017

And so dear listener, as hinted at last week, I have joined the Twitter generation and whilst my handle – JohnTho64114434 – may seem a bit lengthy it is, however, quite far removed from my real name of Iaint850. But the potential (?) of social media hit me when I was receiving various Messages from friend Jill (of whom more in a minute) and she was following me on Twitter but I couldn’t find her and then the landline rang. My answering machine kicks in but, if it’s someone I know, as they start to leave a message, then I pick up the phone; talk to the person; and then, on this occasion, they also sent an e-mail.

Suddenly, there’s a-pinging and a-ringing all over the house and in my head. It will take me a while to get the hang of some things but in the meantime, be gentle with me. 😉

I never really got into the way of Bebo, MySpace, any of the Messengers (AOL, MSN or BBM) or Friends Reunited. It was a big move for me, after I left the College, to realise that e-mail could be used for friendly reasons (and I still use that a lot as I’m not too sure who’s on what but possibly too much) and the blog followed on from that as a means of keeping people up to date on my cancer experience.

So, a wee break in my narrative (oo-er, get you) to mention Jill. Her blog is called Midlife Smarts and it has just been revamped. It has pictures and it has had bits published elsewhere. She also links in with other bloggers and there’s a strong (mid)lifestyle element to it. It’s really good. 😀 😀 😀


Me? I’m reminded of a presenter with whom I used to work, called Colin Bell, who used, possibly, the last manual typewriter in the BBC. He would come in in the morning, ignore everyone else (even me shouting ‘how’s yoursel’, big man?’), put a piece of paper in the typewriter, type the words ‘Hello, I’m Colin Bell’ and then go pour himself a coffee, light up a cigarette and start reading the newspapers.

Me? I type in the words, ‘And so dear listener’ and I’m off and running with one thousand words of stuff. I do look at it later and do some re-writing but what you get is how I feel at the time. In the early days, I did have a kinda editorial committee and there are times when I could do with one now. 😦

But I’ve still to get into the Twitter frame of mind but I am terrified by Trump’s utterances and amazed at the problems faced by Scotrail on a daily basis.

I also use What’sApp and I’m on but have never used WAYN – as I’m not too sure what it is but it looks fun and I’ve never, ever felt settled with Online dating but I should get a new profile pic as I was at a new hairdresser this week (George) who knows my usual hairdresser, Sandra, and, let’s just say hair grows but it’s not too much of a shock as it was getting shorter anyway. As long as I can play with my hair I’m happy but no, no hipster beard and no, no selfie.

So, finally, my evening class this year is an Introduction to Social Psychology and I may be about to learn even more about myself (gulp). I enjoyed Gaelic 1 last year but am not confident enough to do Gaelic 2. I didn’t take enough of it in last year and I realise now that I went through a period when my head was clogged up for various reasons; hopefully people out there now accept that. 🙂

But it is also a brilliant example of how far I have come in my own digital world. I have spoken, often, of doing drink’n’drugs at Paisley Uny as the defining moment of my recent life. Many reasons, but in this context, it was being introduced to the wonderful world of Inter Library Loans and why and how I should check first to see if it was available to me online and very often it was. Good friend and academic adviser Jenny H and I have spoken about the fun of finding journal articles and feeling a sense of achievement – even if the serious writing had still to be done.

Oh, Google Scholar, how I came to love you 🙂 x 🙂 x

This week, as part of the introduction to the course, we were told about Moodle – an online uni-information service. Last year, after several days of e-mailing I got my Moodle sorted. It’s up there with my favourites. Would I have similar problems this year? It only took two clicks and there was this year’s homepage with my name and subject. See me, see online.

(although I continued to fill out Inter-Library-Loans on pieces of paper. No. No reason)

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

iaint850, still looking at mirrors to get used to it and totally denying those rumours that when I worked night shift, I’d go through to the communal lounge in the project to look at myself in the big windows as they showed much more of me than the toilet mirror did. 😉

And so to music.

It could have been the Foo Fighters cos I wanted to make a point about age and Radio1’s fiftieth anniversary; it could have been Tom Petty whose music I could never identify but whenever I heard a track of his I’d go ‘I like that’; or it could have been Lady Antebellum and that serves as a useful reminder that I must stop acting on impulse (but I know that – I just find it difficult not to)

Instead it’s Jason Aldean who was the musician onstage when the bullets started ringing out at a country music festival in Las Vegas as one man (one man?) and his collection of weapons killed about sixty people and injured many others.

I was born in Glasgow, but my family is pretty much from a little town called Paisley, famous for its cotton mills and Paisley pattern (Gerard Butler)

September 28, 2017

And so dear listener, I’m sure that you, like me, failed to notice that Radio 4 was offering £5,000 in a competition to allow the lucky winner the opportunity to make a one-off travel documentary for radio, and my thanks to Jonathan, a former BBC colleague for the info. It was for someone who ‘enjoyed travelling’. The previous winner had been to Tajekistan. 🙂

I was thinking about this as my train passed Possilpark and Parkhouse on the way to Queen Street before I’d the walk down to Central to catch the train to Paisley (if it’s to the uny, it’s by car – if it’s just the town centre, it’s the train)

No. I’m not a big traveller and never really have been. My sis travelled/travels a lot but I have been to some jolly interesting places in my time.

Y’see not only is it the fiftieth anniversary of Radio 1 (which I’ll come back to) but it’s also the fiftieth anniversary of the world’s shortest flight – from Papa Westray to Westray and back (1.7 miles and about five minutes) – and we (study buddie Fi and me) spent most of a Sunday once on the island (either the one or the other) and mega thanks to the other person on the plane who told us that the youth hostel was not locked but to leave a donation for the coffee we drank. I have the certificate to prove it but the two miniatures of Highland Park we were given were swiftly passed on.

And some of the refugees I worked with might have been interested at one time but to be honest, you don’t see much of your journey from Syria to Britain if it is carried out in the back of a lorry with your head down (but they have been given leave to stay in this country for five years).

And my most recent trip was to Oban (on my own) and having walked on Ganavan Beach in the sun and the Esplanade in the rain I came back having decided, more or less, to resign with no job to go to.

(I think that’s living relatively dangerously and I acted with no-one’s advice)

But the two places in the world that have had the greatest influence on me since leaving Peterhead have been Paisley and Easterhouse and I may return to Peterhead and Easterhouse on another occasion. Metaphorically but not in reality. Probably.

No, I was out in Paisley twice this week and it’s a place I know from many years ago as well as currently. A couple of girlfriends (No. Not at the same time) and one of them became my wife (and later my ex-wife) but it was things like the tunnel bus; my now ex-mum-in-law getting me tickets for a Scotland v England game and me getting them from her at a Paisley bingo hall; various bowling clubs; the brilliance that is a fully working Barshaw Park; the Observatory that I visited with half a dozen former heroin users; the University and all that that means for me; and taking part in a Recovery Day at Paisley Town Hall which was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life.

And there’s a lot more. It may not be the stuff of Radio 4 travel documentaries but the place is important to me. 🙂

And so are many of the people I know from there or its environs. 😀 😀 😀

But, finally, I have a major criticism of the University but it’s not just UWS (Paisley) but as more and more are modernising, the open space for me to put up flyers disappears behind opaque plastic. I’ll survive but please tell people about


tioraidh, still wearing that badge and happily keeping it simple

Iaint850, and just cos I’m alive to make mistakes doesn’t excuse the mistakes that I make.

And I’m afraid I’ve run out of word count again so it’ll be next week before I can tell you what being an SVQ assessor involves cos I want to use the last bit of space to tell you a story.

Someone very kindly talked about me turning my life around but I need to be honest; sometimes it feels like I’m in a continual spin. But I owe so much to so many people and I can never underestimate that. Not everyone is so lucky.

So, leaving Queen Street Station the other day to go to Paisley, I saw someone begging, whom I knew – a former service user. Obviously I spent some time talking to him – down on one knee. The guy’s in his mid-thirties and has used various drugs over a period of time but he is really bright and capable of more, so much more than what he’s doing but the resources just aren’t there to help him.

One of the things that I had going for me was, when my addiction worker came to see me after Cold Turkey – and with a colleague – just in case,she saw a good middle class house with books and it was clean and so on. My recovery capital was good but I also know that with Moira there was a belief that everyone had recovery capital of some sort. They do. 🙂

Obviously I told the former service user that I couldn’t give him any money but he reassured me it would be used for food and food alone. Obviously I believed him and obviously I gave him money. I know that the next time I see him he’ll be clean. Obviously.

Anyway a big well done to top music presenter and former BBC colleague, John Collins, who has recently joined Chris Country Radio as the drivetime jock and it’s well deserved. It was John and j, the blog’s top pop picker (and Happy Birthday j) who opened my eyes to what country music has to offer which is why I have a new MP3 player.

John, I don’t know the music policy for drivetime country but you can’t have too much Brandi Carlile

This is her and Dreams and I still have them and always will. Thank you Paisley and everyone else out there.

I’d walk through fire for my best friend…well, not fire. That would be dangerous. But a super humid room…..but not too humid, because, y’know, my hair’ (Word Porn)

September 21, 2017

And so dear listener, I am aware that I have been a bit of a pain in many respects recently, but hopefully I am making amends. It’s funny (?) but I have been asked that question about my ‘alcoholic gap year’ which lasted fourteen months but I am aware that I was putting my job on the line and I was looking really ill and my family and some friends were worried about me but a lot of that was put down to grief. It was actually caused by alcohol as I was drinking rather than keeping up with friends. 😦

So, a massive amount of name-checking friends today. 🙂

For example, the reason for the quote (which the Vampireslayer suggested) is that my hairdresser, Sandra, recently broke her wrist and I do hope she gets better soon. Yes. I am being selfish as there is only one other person in the entire Western world that I can trust with my hair.

So, there’s a wee bit of self-indulgence here.

For example, Jeanette at the BBC, this week, celebrated forty years of being at the Beeb and I was invited over as part of her celebrations but had to pull out because one of my new colleagues wanted to bring forward a meeting and it gave me a chance to meet more people and to find out a wee bit more about my first candidates with whom (j and e) I start work on the second anniversary of Blue Triangle’s Fortieth Anniversary and do you still play the CD? 😀

Yes, a bit convoluted but I was determined.

But back at Jeanette. Everyone will have had their own work memories of her but my own memories include the size of her ankles during her pregnancy but can I also highlight that, several days after Son Brian was born, when we were getting him organised to get him home, I had been given a list of what was needed so the nurse could dress him. I sought advice from Jeanette who spotted that there was no headgear on the list and I knew there was no hat at home and she brought one in the next day. Thanks. These things are important. 🙂

And a big well done to people like Karen and Anne who organised your big day. xx

And a big thanks to the blogmeister who helped sort out some mobile telephonic issues and I have now joined the Twenty-First Century with Twitter but no official announcement because a couple of people have already found me under one name when I thought I had another one.

It’s not the biggest big deal ever. 😉

And my thanks to the mighty Partick Thistle for their brilliant 2 – 2 draw against Rangers which was the first big game I’d attended since the anxiety kicked in and I think a definite sign it has gone. I still worry tho’. I’ll never stop worrying. After all I cause most of it.

And I think it says so much about Partick Thistle games that I spent the bulk of half time talking to Neil, a worker with the homeless in Hull, and smiling at a mail that arrived with perfect timing. 🙂

I didn’t make the League Cup game but that was because of a ticketing problem – not uncommon with me at the moment.

And my thanks to Missie K who, when I told the world that I was in the Mitchell Library to begin my reading for the SVQ Assessor role, messaged me back with the words ‘Ah. Returning to the scene of the crime?’

Which might have pleased Becky, the Miss Marple of North London. 🙂

Y’see I have been telling people about a marvellous programme I caught by chance on Sunday, 17th September at 8.30 pm on BBC 4 (BBCiPlayer info) which was called the Secret Voices of Hollywood and was about the singers who sang the songs that the actors and actresses couldn’t sing because their voices weren’t good enough. 😦

Millions of stories and the one I keep quoting involves Mark Lester (who played Oliver in Oliver) being made to wear a garland of onions to make him cry whilst the director’s daughter sang his part.

Becky, being a super sleuth, had seen it before and shared my enthusiasm. 🙂

And finally I took a train into the Mitchell (well not all the way – libraries haven’t changed that much) and I sat down next to a young lady with a large sports bag. A couple of times the bag poked into me and she apologised and then there was a wee noise so she opened the bag and a pussy cat’s head emerged followed by the cat’s body. And then it was my stop.

The book, The Girl and the Cat on the Train will be available from all good bookshops once I’ve written it.

Tioraidh, still looking for the missing bit of that badge but more than ever keeping it simple,

Iaint850 – even the cheeky wee grin is back

Aaaaargh. Again I’ve run out of words and I’ve not enough room to tell you what an SVQ Assessor does.

But a quick word about Monica Lennon MSP who I quoted last week when she was talking about the stigma attached to being an ‘alcoholic’. She also mentioned the fact that she went to AA meetings with her dad who would have described himself as an alcoholic at such a meeting.

A lot of meetings are open to the public altho’ you have to have a reason to attend. You can’t just go along for a nosey. But if you have, say, a member of your family who attends these meetings, then you have a good reason for going along. It’s a chance to see what goes on. As one of the interviewees in my Master’s said, ‘folk who go to meetings are anonymous – not invisible’.

Anyway, excuse me while I sing along to one of my favest pieces of music from a kinda musical and I CAN do the actions……but I have no idea what they’re singing about……it’s all innuendo, anyway.

‘I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.’ (Jane Austen – the full quote)

September 14, 2017

And so dear listener, some very wise words there from the very wise Jane Austen. And I wonder what she’d have made of my latest venture – all in the name of completing my latest work search. 😉

I’m back at college – well I’m not but I was in one last Wednesday and what a jolly fun experience it turned out to be. And then it might help if I told you how close I am to fulfilling my latest lifelong ambition – becoming an SVQ Assessor. 🙂 🙂

Let’s go colleging which is not an academic form of cottaging but it’s a long time since I’ve been back to that car park in Strathclyde Park but totally unconnected is the fact that three years ago, as a sixtieth birthday present, the good Dr W and I went abseiling. I wonder…..No. I don’t. We move swiftly on.

So I’d to meet a man at the relatively new City of Glasgow College to enrol for a Personal Development Award in Assessing. He told me that the main entrance was up the side of the building – two floors up.

I was early. It’s a train time thing. There’s a Costa Coffee on the ground floor and I went in. And there they sat, glistening at me, begging me to have them…….yes, I gave into temptation. I had a roll and links. Meat links. Sausages. And they were nice. It’s not an ethical or medical thing. I do not feel ashamed. I felt better for it. I left the café and made my way up to the main entrance and reception.

What a bloody climb that was. Next time (?) it’s the internal staircase. Anyway, I made it and I’d to wait a few minutes and I just kept bursting out laughing. Forty-five years ago I matriculated in Latin at Glasgow University and now here I was at an FE College preparing for the next stage in my life. I couldn’t stop smiling. 🙂 🙂 🙂

The rest of the business was carried out dead quick and both the invoice and my latest student card (think student discount again) are in the post. Altho’ he did suggest that I get a new USB stick special for the SVQ Assessment stuff. After my nose stopped bleeding and my face returned from its ghostly white to its normal hot flush red, I mumbled agreement.

Not sure when I’ll start earning and I could do without the debt I owe a previous employer but it was my decision to leave and my head is soooooo much happier. I have a focus and I was badly needing one.

So I had said to a few people that I’d wait until the end of September before considering agency or relief work.

No. I’m going to concentrate on this. Once my printer concedes defeat and prints off the PDF that tells me what I’m supposed to be doing.

The main memory that came back on Wednesday was that day, six and a half year ago, when I wandered out to UWS (Paisley) to meet a man called Ken Barrie who, after about twenty minutes, told me I was on the Post Grad course starting a few months later, subject to satisfactory references. 🙂

I went across a foyer thing to the Library Foyer which no longer exists (it’s an Information Hub) and I sat on a comfy seat for ‘I don’t know how long’ with a massive smile on my face. 🙂 🙂 🙂

And just thought…..Wow.

And later, on Wednesday, I was at Glasgow University. I’d to see the blogmeister about a couple of things and it was Freshers’ Week and you could see the look of indecision before they approached me. And I did get goodies. I’m not sure if I’ve ever eaten a piece of Domino’s pizza before….but I have now. Basic Margarita (sp?) since you ask.

And then the next day it happened again…….being recognised by someone from many years ago; only this time I wasn’t holding a bag of chips. I was sitting at one of the gates at the Botanic Gardens where the dinosaurs had roamed.

And again a good looking woman (ages with me) walked up to me and said, ‘jt850?’ but this time I knew her name and we chatted. Not a former girlfriend this time but someone who, with her male partner, had been good friends with me and my then wife. Pleasantries were pursued and she moved on.

Incidentally, when did the unicorn become Scotland’s national animal?

And I do know how popular our long running series looking at library assistants through the ages has been and Skippy has found a brilliant PhD thesis called A History of Women Workers in English Libraries 1871 – 1974. It’s a fascinating read but I’d be grateful if you could resist tearing into it until you’ve finished the blog. Thank you

The URL is (and you have to copy and paste this week) file:///C:/Users/John%20Thomson/Downloads/DX210274.pdf

tioraidh, and still wearing that badge altho’ the holding pin fell off in a Byres Road coffee shop and still keeping it friendly, simple and focussed.

Iaint850, assessor candidate and proud of it

And I’m sorry but the Word-Count-Ometerhas just sounded and I’ll need to wait until next week before I tell you what the job involves. And I did want to highlight MSP Monica Lennon’s comments about the stigma attached ti ‘coming out’ as ‘an alcoholic’. I did a wee bit of writing about that during the Master’s but I did notice her saying something about people being put off going to AA by having to say ‘My name is John and I am an alcoholic’ when they feel they’re not that bad. Sorry, Monica, but that’s more or less the only criterion for membership. Maybe that’s what the PhD should have been about.

And I think there are some people out there who are still perplexed about the meaning of Six Degrees of Separation. I think this explains everything.

I think it’s well known that it was j, still the blog’s favest librarian, who turned me on. To country music (and seeing Kris Kristofferson with her was really special) and this got me listening to a former BBC colleague John Collins on his country music show on Clyde 2 on Sunday evenings. And it was John who pointed me in the direction of Chris Country Music but jc no longer does his Sunday night show but he does the breakfast show on both Saturday and Sunday on Clyde 2 and related stations. But John turned up on Chris Country on Monday which is where I heard this.

Thanks for listening y’all.