Archive for April, 2008

Under this national rain cloud I’m getting soaked to the skin, Trying to find my umbrella but I don’t know where to begin

April 30, 2008

The wise words of KT Tunstall there, particularly appropriate for all bloggers inundated with comments on the minutiae of the marketing of pan scourers and supermarket kiosk assistants. So, where to start?

Why not back at the sandblasting base where all this began? Y’know how one of the major complaints about dentists’ and doctors’ surgeries is the fact that all the magazines for reading are old copies of Reader’s Digest. Well no such problem for us. We read, when not discussing each other’s symptoms, up to date copies of “Shooting Times – a Country Magazine”, this month with a “Better Stalking” insert.

Funny, living in North Maryhill, I’d missed out on that particular issue…..too busy dodging the bullets, I suppose, on my own estate. Hunting and shooting rights available on application.

However, let’s hear it for one of my colleagues down the Centre who had to cope with an unusual problem, as yet, unbeknownst to me. He was caught short, know what I mean, whilst driving and happened to have one of those bags with him, know what I mean, which he managed to fill, with one hand still on the wheel before managing to find a safe parking place. British ingenuity, eh! 

However, that’s fifteen down and twenty two to go for me, and the envy we all felt towards the wee man from Hamilton who finished yesterday?….or was it hatred? Mmmm. No, surely not.

And I’ve become aware of medical staff close to the Sandblasting Centre who are aware of my identity. Much respect for anonymity, please guys. Some stories about medical students are true but should remain in the closet, as it were.

Elsewhere, My search for recompense for all those N.I. stamps I’ve paid for over the years continues. (Younger readers, ask people even older than me. They do exist….not the stamps, the people. And, okay C, I promise not to use the prefix young again where you are concerned…just in case) Anyway, where was I? Apparently I shouldn’t have been on Job Seekers Allowance in the first place. I should be on Incapacity Benefit, thus adding to the numbers claiming that benefit in my part of Glasgow at a time when the Government is trying to cut those numbers back. I do understand the global rationale (sorry Dennis, big words and, yes, I would rather have Radio Clyde than Radiotherapy) but individually, have I lost money? We’ll wait and see.

It’s now pouring with rain and I have to question whether or not to have my usual walk in the cemetary across the road where I now know there are no Zombies,… C, G. G and C…are you listening, sticky toffee pudding ladies?….. only vampires. I may have the proof. But can I reveal it? Only time will tell.

Finally, I started with KT Tunstall. Can I finish by wishing Katie, who can spell the whole name, a happy twenty-first party this Friday? Ta. cya there.

cya the rest of you soon


Some days you gotta dance, Live it up when you get the chance…..Gotta loosen up those chains and dance

April 27, 2008

Wise words from the fun loving, anti-war Dixie Chicks and ninety years young Nancy would love those lyrics. Still dancing, still flirting.

Weird times down the old Treatment Centre. The machinery’s been a wee bit hit or miss and I’ve missed a couple of treatments but the staff are brilliant at fitting you in. It looks as if the end of May target is still on, but if not, then, hey, lots more comments like Friday’s “Can you wriggle up the bed a bit?”…It’s been years since anyone’s said that to me.

But different treatment rooms do have different techniques and ways of marking your body so that the radiation can zero in on your tattoo marks on a regular basis, but does the indelible ink marker arrow have to be followed by “:) hee hee” ?

And then there’s the added problem of our water. We have to drink two cups of water half an hour before the sandblasting. A slight delay is a potential problem but we’re men of the world. I used to drink pints. Now I don’t drink alcohol at all. Two plastic cups of water is nothing to men used to corridorless trains.

However, I do wish the well-meaning medical staff didn’t show such concern about it. “Can you hold your water for a few minutes longer?” It only adds to the pressure. It’s a wee bit like those moments (parents will know what I mean) when you say to your young son or daughter “We’re coming up to a service station. Do you need the toilet….just in case?” and getting the answer “No”. Only to be told, once past the services, “Well actually, now you mention it.” or however that translates to bebospeak.

However my colleagues are resilient and we’re all chipping in for some new bulbs just to see us through the rest of our treatment. So what’s been happening elsewhere?

Can I use this opportunity to apologise to the young lady who sells me newspapers every morning at eight o’clock from the kiosk at my local ASDA? On Friday, she cheerily said,” You’re a wee bit later today,” to which I replied; “I’d a couple of e-mails that came in overnight I wanted to reply to.” How pretentious is that? I cringed, outside in the car park where no-one could see me. Yes, dear reader, they did come in after I’d gone to bed…just as Newsnight started.

Kiosk operators have amazing talents; selling lottery tickets, cigarettes and disposable lighters at the same time as reading newspapers upside down. Sorry. I’ve done it again.

Let’s have a go at people who deserve it. Namely those running dogs of capitalism who don’t want us to know about the increase in the price of pan scourers. Like the daily newspaper who highlighted the fact that the cost of filling the kitchen cupboards of a typical British kitchen has risen by SIX times the rate of inflation. But did it mention the “whopping” increase in the price of pan scourers? No. It did not.

C’mon McBride, you’re supposed to be a captain of industry, you’ve just been profiled in the Financial Times. Do something about it! Oh you sell books, do you? but do you sell books about the price of pan scourers? Exactly.

Finally, a big welcome to the world to a new baby whom we’ll call Mirren (‘cos that’s her name) and my personal congrats to a proud Gran, Jeanette, who’s always ensured that my behaviour towards twenty-one year old students has been right and proper. (“Gas and air”, J? Sums you right up! xxxx)




Oh, Laurie, you’re so fine, You’re so fine you blow my mind, Hey Laurie. Hey Laurie

April 23, 2008

Apologies to Toni Basil who came up with one of the greatest pop songs ever in the original, Mickey. I suppose I should maybe apologise to Laurie’s partner as well, in case he reads this. (Why are all the good women spoke for?)

Moving swiftly on…it’s been a quiet week down the old Treatment Centre. Maybe that’s because the big Irishman is no longer with us…Sorry. That should read “has finished his treatment”. None of his jokes are repeatable in a family blog but his Chris Tarrant Millionaire/pubic hair gag is a classic.

Some of the technology hasn’t been working this week so my treatment has been cancelled, twice, which, psychologically, is a real bummer. It means that my treatment no longer finishes at “the end of May” but “the beginning of June” as they add on the missing days. Nuisance…. and could have a knock on effect, for me, for anything happening in the first week of June.

The highlight was on Monday when the lady doctor emerged to tell the wee man from Denny that, “The answer’s No.” We’re down to three possible questions. The suggested fourth is physically impossible, for any of us. It’s really good ‘cos all of you see a doctor every Monday, which means that if you do have a problem then you’re not drawing attention to yourself.

Elsewhere, I’d to visit my own GP to get a four-weekly injection which helps. It’s basically a large needle which looks like a…(I don’t know how to describe it. If Laura F’s reading this, suggestions gratefully received.) …..but it does give a marvellous pharmaceutical high if mixed with coffee and added a new dimension to my teaching at the College.

Domestically, Kenny, my shed pimp has been in touch and I’m to get a new shed. Honestly, blogmeister, I am not a fetishist. I know people with more than one shed. I have a neighbour who hides his other one behind a hedge…just in case. There’s also a website called something like Sheds’r’us. It’s like a shed equivalent of Readers’ Wives in which people send in pix of their sheds. I am divorced some twenty years. My pix are black and whites, but, hey it’s a specialist market.

I’m reminded of a previous shed I bought for a previous garden. It came “supplied and fitted with free erection”. (Regular readers can now fill in their own gags. I know Laurie will. I, meantime, will go and burst into tears for an hour or so. I have my memories.)

So, in the real world of credit crunching, house hunting, possible petrol shortages and high food prices the following letter caught my eye from the Daily Record. “There has been a lot of publicity about the increase in the cost of food, but I was shocked at an almost 50 per cent rise in the price of a pan scourer. I have bought the same 79p scourers for two years, but recently I paid £1.15 for it. This is a bigger increase than any food I’ve read about.” Gordon Brown are you listening? The people are speaking! Bring the cost of pan scourers down! Now!

Finally, this week, a serious pay-off. I am aware of some people who know of the existence of this blog but won’t read it but feel it might be a really serious look at cancer treatment. It’s obviously not. There’s also some who think I’m too flip about what is a very serious subject.  That’s why the Comment facility exists. Spread the word.

R.I.P. Samantha, 4 years old and fellow cancer blogger from Debyshire



All this talk of getting old, It’s getting me down my love. Like a cat in a bag, waiting to drown This time I’m comin’ down.

April 20, 2008

At one stage last week this was me summed up by The Verve and then two things happened. One is the brilliant ninety year young Nancy with whom it is impossible not to flirt. She must have been one helluva dancer a couple of years back and once her treatment is finished, then Graham Norton, you need look no further. We have a real, live one here in Glasgow. 

The other is a wee bit more personal. On the way out of the Chamber area on Friday, having been impeccably sandblasted as ever by the radiotherapists, I heard one (young lady) say to the other; “That Johnt850, he’s not really that old, is he?”. Okay. So, it’s all relative, but it didn’t half set me up for the rest of the day. Mid-thirties, since you ask ( and a lot more).

I have now just twenty-eight visits to go and I am no longer the new boy. I love the way I’m asked my date of birth every time. What happens should I ever forget it? Does it not happen that day? And, I’m pleased to say, I’ve now had the ultimate enema experience. I’m sorry but it means a lot to me.

And on the subject of music, a friend recommended to me a band called “Live” in my search for appropriate lyrics. I said I’d look for them on the ‘net. Have you any idea how difficult it is to tie down the word “Live” to the name of a band on YouTube? It’s like the “Hu’s the President of China” gag that’s going around at the moment. Every band has got a “live” listing. So I bought a “Live” album (just as difficult) which has got a CD audio side and a DVD side. I can’t get into it!! I’m calm. I’m cutting back on the coffee. It will get done.

And on the subject of getting into things. I gave up on the idea of unscrewing the top of last week’s Boiled Linseed Oil (the picnic bench) so I drilled into the side. (It’s plastic). It worked and there was a hole big enough to get a straw into. So I went and got a straw and it fitted. Unfortunately, at this point, the postman rang the doorbell. Once. Okay. Maybe I should have put the bottle down before answering……. It could be a while before he comes back.

I was also looking for a book on Saturday, the title of which involves a bus-driver and God. (Yes. I’m intrigued as well). I failed but will continue the search. It would be good to get it soon…just in case. All other recommendations of books (on their real titles alone) gratefully received.

Finally, much respect to anyone who’s ever been thrown out of a Hamster appreciation website community forum. Your secret is safe with me. (I now know how well-meaning community forum website people are but in the world of Cyberspace, wouldn’t it be good if one of them lived next door.)

And also well done to all those running today in The Glasgow North 10k Fun Run. This time, next year…that’ll be me. (I’m just so glad that nobody I know reads this)



Get your rocks off, Get your rocks off, honey, Shake it now now, Get’em off downtown

April 16, 2008

A little patriotic song there from Primal Scream, played before the start of every Scotland football match. When there’s all this chat about a new Scottish national anthem, why are we ignoring such an obvious contender? What? Sexist? Oh. Older male readers might want to pause here and cast your minds back to the Ayr Drum Majorettes. I was about twelve years old, they were about fourteen/fifteen. That’s all I’m saying.

Moving swiftly on and we’re into the second week of the cancer treatment and, mentally, it’s a wee bit harder. I now understand why all my new friends count down the number of visits they have to do and after today I have a further thirty to go. But we all seem to get there.

Educationally, it’s a revelation. I can now lip-read a radiotherapist at a distance of thirty yards, mouthing the words, “Has your enema worked yet?”. I do hope she realises that my return gesture means, “Give it another two minutes”. And, the ultimate compliment from one of these marvellous ladies in white. Explaining why there’s a slight difference in the way they do the sandblasting from before, she said, “You’re good. You’re really good. You don’t wriggle.” I believe it’s a medical term, but comments are invited.

Luckily, I’m not looking for an epitaph at the present moment…just in case….but is that how I would like to be remembered? I think not. Incidentally, regular readers will remember that last week I mentioned burials and saunas on the same page. You would be amazed at the piece of mail I was sent, which was spammed and is now deleted. There’s a lesson there.  

Elsewhere, I discovered that the Kelvingrove Art Galleries don’t open until 11 o’clock on Fridays and Sundays. No prizes for guessing when I discovered that. And that the guy who comes and cuts my grass now employs two people. He is now a business and good luck to him. I also attempted to paint my picnic bench but unfortunately I was unable to open the child-proof top on the bottle of boiled linseed oil…..and you can never find a child when you need one….and who came up with the idea that boiling linseed oil would be good for picnic benches, anyway?

The mail has just arrived. I have claimed for Jobseekers’ Allowance because I paid my stamps over years and I am aware, that because I resigned, there may be a slight hiccup. Basically I am now being asked why I just didn’t go “on the sick”. Em,…’cos I thought this was the fairest way for everyone involved, particularly students and myself, in order to let everyone know where they stood…or is that being old fashioned? I will keep you posted. And while I’m on a rant……when will Gordon Brown ever actually talk about real people in this country and not just quote from a macro-economic text book? Anyway I’ve arranged to see Margaret from the Macmillan people next week and we’ll see what can be done…about my benefits claim, not the state of the economy. Well, you never know.

And now for this week’s Cyberspace experiment…….which hasn’t worked. Blogmeister, if you’re reading, Grasshopper is struggling. I will publish and am terrified that what appears in Preview is not what appears on the published page. Forgive me everyone. I am but a novice. So much to learn but, thankfully, so much time in which to learn.

And if you’ve been opening new business premises in Swansea, hope it went well.



Strain living with a name they get the best of me, But I’m no walker away

April 13, 2008

Those Kings of Leon know how to work a lyric don’t they? Do you know that their first names are Caleb, Nathan and Jared, which I always thought were the Dingles in Emmerdale, but there you go.

So that’s the first week out of the way and I feel so humble, not to say foolish and embarrassed. I thought I knew the score, all the codewords. There was a woman in our group whom I’d never seen before (this group should not be confused with any mixed sauna which I may or may not have visited in the past, thinking it was a health club). So I said to her, “First time?” to which she said, “No. I’ve been coming for five months. I’m getting both chemo and radio.” Oh ground, please swallow me up.

But I’m enjoying myself. I think I’ll go back for a second week. Sounds a wee bit like a child at the end of their first ever week at primary school who doesn’t fully realise they have no choice. Even if there is a wee man there who is threatening to tell me all about a side effect he describes as “the broken glass scenario”. He uses different words.

The radiotherapists are amazing. They are so precise in their measurements they could put Clydebuilt draughtsmen to shame and ..Yes. They have to be. (That’s this week’s size gag out of the way). And my apologies to the young female radiotherapist when I sat up before I was meant to. Honest. I did know I was six feet off the ground. (Not)

But other things have been happening this week. I was at a funeral. A marvellous woman eighty-nine years young. Lots of people were there including Charles Kenendy, MP and also Rector of Glasgow University. Can I just say that not only did he arrive by taxi, he paid for it with cash and he did NOT ask for a receipt. See, they’re not all greedy, graspy, etc, etc.

Also it was the only funeral I have ever been at where the words “unlicensed foreign currency transfer” have raised a laugh. You had to be there.

And of course, the footie’s been fun. Lots for us menfolk to discuss this week. The women can read their magazines. (And I have received a copy of the “samizdat” publication. It’s quite glossy, seems to be about alternative/complementary medicines and one of its patrons is David Jensen, “radio and TV personality”. Younger readers, don’t even bother. More of icon anon).  

And now to this week’s Cyberspace experiment. Last week I tried a link which worked. This week it was going to be a pic. It was to be a pic of an orange with symetrical lines on it sitting on a sheet of paper. (It’s a long story but it reminds me of a student called Fiona, whose dad is a doctor in Coatbridge) but I couldn’t get it under control (which also reminds me of a student called Fiona……)

But worry not, I shall keep trying. I have just taken some interesting photos in the cemetery opposite but then the burial party asked me to move on. I shall maybe try one of those mid-week, that is, if the zombies don’t get me. 

If you’re house-hunting this week…Good luck



You woke up this morning, got yourself a gun, Mama always said, you were the chosen one

April 9, 2008

Those who have recently tasted my sticky toffee pudding will have been expecting Alabama 3 as the opening lyric. I hope your wait has not been in vain. Similarly, fans of the Sopranos.

Well, two days into the cancer treatment and it’s going well. Although yesterday, initially, it was so depressing. It was like walking onto the set of Still Game with all these (to me) old men saying “See You Tomorrow”, as they left for the day, although I accept, that to twenty-one year olds, I must seem old….very old. My head was in my hands…literally, although still attached to my neck. Was this to be the next eight weeks?

But it must have been obvious. It must have been like one of those scenes from a prison movie, ‘cos one of the old lags said to me, “First day son?”  I nodded, feebly. “Well”, he said, “this is the routine.”, and told me all about it. (Well, he didn’t actually do the bit about not bending down for the soap in the shower, but…..)

It must have worked, because today, when I went in, they all nodded to me. The opening gambit seems to be, “Did you see the game last night?” to which the correct response is “Aye. Some goal, wasn’t it?” and you’re in. But what if there’s no goals scored, or indeed, no game. Only time will tell.

And there seems to be some form of cancer “samizdat” floating around, telling the truth about prostate cancer, whatever that is. I will find it, dear reader. There may even be an escape committee and tunneling and Steve McQueen on a motorbike. What a strange but exciting world I seem to have entered.

At this point I shall keep the nurses’ fumbling to myself. Apparently, they can’t find one of my tattoos. (Every size gag under the sun has been done, so don’t even go there) Also, I realise that I don’t have matching pairs of black socks…guess what I might be doing this weekend but don’t worry I won’t be writing about it.

So to blog experiment number 1…a link.

A good friend mentioned to me a charity called tjjt. It was set up in memory of a young guy called John and its aims are to help support this young man’s promises of supporting education in a village in Kaleo in Ghana. So I made a donation (I’ve never seen my initials in a palindrome before) and the newsletter came through today. So here’s the link All I ask is that you try it and if it works, let me know. Then I might try another experiment…pix!



Although it’s true I’m worried now, I won’t be worried long

April 6, 2008

Another day, another new blog, and I already start with a copyright infrigement. The above comes from the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (younger readers ask your parents, or even grandparents) but it sums up how I’m feeling just now. I suspect most people looking in will be those I have e-mailed to say this is happening so pleased don’t look for immediate fireworks and also that means that I don’t have to do too much in the way of intro.

This is me feeling my way, it’s not quite cyberspace, but I’ve been saying for sometime that there’s some stuff I wanted to write and this is probably a good way to do it. As most of you know, I start radiotherapy for prostate cancer on Tuesday, which, since they shut down the original Clatty Pat’s, is the best way I can think of for a man of my age to meet nurses. Although a woman down the ASDA the other day asked me my D.O.B. and when I gave it, said I looked five years younger. It’s not a diet I would recommend.

I would stress that this is not another Dead Man Walking column ‘cos it ain’t. It’s just that I’ve got some extra time on my hands as I’m not working at the Glasgow Met College any longer and I’ve been using e-mail a lot. I don’t see myself as a natural for Bebo (Is this where comments come in?) and I’m aware that as the (eight) weeks progress I might have some amazing insights on the World, such as doesn’t Hardeep Kohli look much bigger in Fopp in Byres Road than he does on the telly?

So I’ve got ideas that I want to write about, to use the blog to say thanks to the guy who suggested my Grand National horse (Comply or Die), to say thanks to two smashing folk who did a wee bit of ghostwriting for me this weekend and to the Blogmeister, who remembered me for my shed fetish, and helped me set this up. Is it blog etiquette to name names?

So much to learn and so much time to do it.

The title is up for grabs. I did have one suggestion but that was knocked back by the first person I ran it past.  So, that’s it. Nothing earth shattering. Just the hopes it actually gets out there and the people I e-mail later tonight, to say it’s there, see it, comment on it and maybe also e-mail me or txt me or put a big Adtrailer outside my house to let me know. Then, and only then, will I think about design, layout, pix and links…..or at least I’ll ask the Blogmeister how to do it.

The only petard with which I intend to hoist myself is to use a different song line or title each time I write (say, twice a week) to intro the piece. Tonight I’m also going to finish with one.

cya and don’t forget to keep “whistling in the dark”

john t