Archive for December, 2008

There’s No Light On The Christmas Tree Mama, They’re Burning Big Louie Tonight

December 30, 2008

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band there, and Yes, after twenty years, my C’mas tree lights have given up the Ghost of Christmas Present. I have changed  the fuse. No. No difference.

Is there a way you can work out which bulb is dead without trying them all?

Happy Hogmanany thing


We’ve come so far Yet back to the start, Don’t you be a roundabout Oh now baby don’t misread the signs If you turn the key then things will turn out fine

December 27, 2008

And I think The Ting Tings will be a brill concert, Katie M, and I did enquire about tickets for The Killers but 4 x £135 is just a wee bit too much at this stage of my entrepreneurial life. Fourth person? Not sure. Hang on. Wait a minute. I have an idea.

So can I say serious thanks to a certain young lady for the festive text received on 25th December? No. No connection. It was sooooo well received ‘cos Christmas day at the workhouse, a.k.a. my son’s mum’s house, was completely cancelled because of illness, pestilence and disease amongst the extended 850 family, and even as I speak, I am full of pharmaceutical drugs (not for the first time) but I feel my fingers are about to do all the talking today. I dread reading this blog after I send it….just in case.

But this is supposed to be a simple review of the year so, so far, so good.

But first, a quick Christmas look back and my fave quote was made in a tapas restaurant off Byres Road last week when I was asked if I wanted the duck up my end.

I watched Rab C on BBC iPlayer and enjoyed the jokes about jaikies (I can use those), sexual positions (I can think about those, long and hard) and the TV joy that was the Muslim lesbians singing Karaoke in a Govan bar. So, what did people complain about? The fact that the former Rangers reserve and f…f….f….philanderer, Gordon Ramsay, was described as a “hun”. Ho, hum.

Thank goodness for the honesty that was the festive movie, American Psycho, with its unique take on the Christmas message and the memories it brought back…….of the book, which I read earlier this year during my sandblasting period. Good writing creates pictures. (Gulp) I’ll move swiftly on.

So my top Christmas pressie? It came from Son Brian (the socks were lovely). In the days before I plan to set up on my own (you’ve got to do these things when young) I discover that a major contribution has been made on my behalf to a guy, Nurunnari, in Bangla Desh who’s also starting his own business, The House of Bamboo. Good luck, mate. It’s a Gift for Life. And my thanks to those nice people at for making it possible. And ta, Son Brian.

So the first ever johnt850 lifetime achievement award goes to Son Brian, not just for putting up with my alcoholic period, my cancer or my expanding CD collection, but for allowing me to pay for every meal we have ever had together (maybe the odd exception) and the current plan (plague allowing) is to lunch down Loch Lomond Shores this Monday.

If you’re in the area, know me and can answer a simple question correctly, then join us. It’s my treat. I will have my flexible friend with me. I should stress that this is not an obscure reference to anyone, albeit unwittingly, and I have not created any mental pictures of anyone…..honest. (Gulp)

Literary disappointment of the year? The failure of the Days Like This competition to recognise the talents of two of Scotland’s three up and coming young literary talents of 2009, namely myself and my gd frnd Clr. The third? (who didn’t actually enter). Obviously my newest, latest, bestest friend ever, Caitlin. Any news for me, eh, eh, eh?

Which brings me to the johnt850 annual team of the year award. Only one possible winner here and that is quite simply Gillian, Gillian, Claire and Christine. No team name, ‘cos no one name does you guys justice. As Katie M put it (she kindly helped judge) you guys were the first chapter in what turned out to be an incredible yearbook. So serious ta, and maybe some time in 2009?…..It could be anyone’s call, any variation of numbers, and you know where to find me. Sticky Toffee Pudding rules, okay?

Clairely, two Gillians there, and, yes, there have been two Claires tremendously influential in 2008 but there are three Katies and a Kay on my e-mail address list which did come close to causing problems at one stage and to one of them, can I just say; “I had the stilton, but not the port. I hope you enjoyed yours.”

(Surely, doctor, if I have both the Benylin and Boots’s own brand at the same time, I’ll get better, quicker?)

And before we move to the main event of the evening I’d like to mention my album of the year, in a year of many albums, and my thanks to Missie K, Emma J and Heather C for suggesting many of them, and to the ol’ Fopp shop and the Rainforest riverman for selling them to me. And to the Vampire Slayer for protecting them.

It’s the Infadels‘ Universe in Reverse (I saw them at Loch Lomond thanks to the Parfery person….how you doin’?) and the top track? We All Make Mistakes From Time To Time. That is just sooooooo uncoded, isn’t it? 

I am reminded of the man (No. No reason) who won the Nobel Peace Price, the Nobel Literary Prize and the Nobel Economics Prize. Turning to the cameras before going to prison he paused and said, “One lousy sheep, that’s all it was. One lousy sheep.”

So, to third place in the first ever johnt850 annual personality of the year awards:

It goes to the amazing Laura F who, for months, must have wondered when her name and the words “big prick” would appear in the same sentence. Well, they just did. And I’ve seen some really large needles this year as well, let me tell you. (Any casual reference to “modesty forbids” would be too easy, so I won’t). For your infinite patience (in so many things), well done. 

And in second place is the person many thought would be the odds-on winner: my good friend and copy taster, Claire (to give her her Sunday name). Your name, in fact, came to epitomise the tremendous support I got from loadsa people during the cancer treatment (and obviously helped cope with the worries of possible relapsing alcoholism), but also with encouraging the blog and blook writing (plus people like Dennis,e, L frae Troon, Kevin C and the Blogmeister amongst so many others) and most years you would have been a shoe-in, a shoo-in or a chou-in. So so close but always keeping it fun.

Still, updates’r’good. (Kinda gulp)

So, to the winner, in a smashing year.

It is the amazing three year old Ruby, daughter of BBC Steve, who explained to his PT supporting mates in the Doublet that they were going to be joined by a friend of his, this season, “oh, and by the way, he’s an alkie, but he’s alright…at the moment.” I think that was real neck on the line stuff. Serious ta, and nice meeting you from time to time, Ruby, in various bars and football grounds. Best wishes to your mum, Alison. You’re so like her.

(Now will you issue those invites, Steve? Just the three. I’ll give you names and addresses later, shall I?)

Ruby’s pressie, I mean, prize? A lovely dragon kite, in “as high as a ….” (It’s okay, doctor, it’s a blackcurrant lem-sip. They don’t count, do they?) All other prizes on application. And, yes, Ruby did get her prize on Christmas Day, ahead of the phone lines opening, but, hey, I used to work for the BBC.

So the johnt850 review of the year. There it goes. I think it did what it says on the tin.

cya in 2009 (and ta for the help, Katie. You have strangely good taste).

Johnt850, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

And what if I don’t become famous posthumously Maybe my story’s no good If I can take one possession with me then it’ll have to be my duvet When oblivion comes calling it’ll be so cold….we’re going to die alone, all alone

December 20, 2008

My fave piece of music there from last Christmas from the brill Malcolm Middleton  (two great vids on YouTube. Watch ’em both).

Hey, some things can change over the course of twelve months, okay? I should know. 

And my thoughts on the great Christmas Hallelujah debate? As regular listeners will know, this blog featured the Imogen Heap version, as kinda suggested by the lovely Missie K, several weeks ago and we’re standing  by that. But welcome to the special Christmas version of the blog. So far, so good.

q    what’s furry and minty?

a     a polo bear       (It’s a cracker gag. Get the idea?)

So I’ve sent out millions and millions of cards and e-cards, cos you can’t go wrong with cards, can you? I mean nobody can get the wrong idea, can they? (Yes. It’s a premonition, just in case)

But I’ve had a few back.

My thanks to my mole on Glasgow City Council and I agree. The photographer should have taken the pic of the City Chambers, not from the City Chambers; 

and to my mate who makes statues (what are these people called?) and who sent me a pic of the massive erection he was responsible for in Edinburgh this year, I like the footnote: “(the subject)’s dog was called Toby but a bitch I know called Rosella modelled for it.” I went out with a model called Rosella once. Yup. Same burd;

and to my friends from Maggie’s Farm, have a good Christmas. Sorry I missed the party. Who knows? Had I gone, I might have pulled a cracker….ker-ching! Hey, it’s Christmas.

q     why didn’t the ghost go to the party?

a      he had no body to go with           (gulp, sob, gulp) 

And my fave seasonal TV prog? Obviously, Strictly Come. I’ve never seen it but as an amateur psephologist (my gd frnd Clr, and Caitlin, who I was talking to tonight who thought I looked so professional (eh?), I just don’t have the fancy tank tops that Strath Professor J C has), the problem with the voting was that there should have been four in the semis. John Sergeant’s premature evacuation caused the problem. He pulled out early.

I speak as a former student politician of whom it was once said I could get a biscuit tin elected. Maybe now, thirty years on, I should apologise.

q     what’s Santa’s favourite pizza?

a      one that’s deep pan, crisp and even.

And a quick serious note on the cancer front…I notice that the Head of Cancer Research UK thinks that symptom awareness  should be top priority in the fight against cancer. I agree. I was so lucky being a rehabbing alcoholic that I was being monitored regularly and my symptoms were picked up so quickly. Weird thing, luck. Weird sentence, that one, just before the one about “weird thing, luck”.

That’s a small amphibian you have there.

Yes. It’s my newt.          (say it out loud, for Goodness sake!) 

Incidentally, one wee point about the death of the guy known as Deep Throat in the Watergate story (and can I just point  out that the movie of the same name, currently available for £5 down the ol’ Fopp shop, has nothing to do with Woodward and Bernstein, and that its only interest to journo students would be the interesting non-verbal techniques used in interviews, not that I’ve ever seen it….all the way to the end, anyway) is that he didn’t break the story. He confirmed, or otherwise, certain facts. So, hey, keep in touch with all your possible contacts. C’est tout.

It was good journo techniques of the kind I hope they’re teaching these days (and in those days you did without mobile phones, but with manual typewriters, and you needed to know how to book the only phone box in the area with the aid of a local alkie (hey, I could have done both)), altho’ war movies with happy endings are good. Irrelevant but good.

And if anyone needs access to Watergate books, actually from that era, they’re on the same shelf as the Al-Qaeda stuff in the front room. It’s a hobby, okay?

Which brings me to the movie of the season, possibly,: Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr Hunter S. Thompson. I want to see it. Any offers? Any calls?

Two birds are sitting on a perch. One says, “do you smell fish?     (think about it)

And my hoped for hedonistic weekend got off to a damp start on Friday when a wee spot of rain put some really strong men off going for a mild libation. If onlyL frae Troon had been there to make it happen; dominance her speciality.

Incidentally, for those who were asking a very important question, about my social plans for the festivities. I can still do bacchanalia. It’s the licking champagne off womens’ bodies that’s tricky. I’ve not yet found a proper alternative (to champagne, not women), but it’s fun practicing. 

But I was at a great party this weekend, and a very Happy Twenty First Birthday to Aunt Marjon. Well she’s not really my aunt, but she is to members of a very large family, of whom Son Brian seems to be an honorary member and whilst the other C thought I looked “professional” (Yes. I know it’s the second time I’ve said it) and seemed to like my long hair (are you listening people who have not seen me for months?), Son Brian seemed to take great pleasure in telling me black and blue didn’t match.

They will on your face the next time I get you on your own. Inheritance? What inheritance?

What’s the difference between a duck? One of its legs are both the same.        (Jung Wan, I know it doesn’t make sense, but I laughed just the same)

Incidentally, Uncle Colin, the Vampire Mag is called “Bite Me” and I don’t spend all my time on the internet. I just happen to know these things. No. No reason. Except…….for those of you who know of the existence of a sweatshirt with my one remaining demon still in it, you might not be aware of the fact that it’s a freebie from a movie called Interview with a Vampire, which is on next week. (Spooky or what?) Vampire Slayer. Where are you when I need you? It’s a kinda rhetorical question, Torrance One. But you know where I am. If I scream.

And Uncle Colin, all those silly things you say I said about about a College student. Why, they could have applied to several people, couldn’t they? COULDN’T THEY? 

And finally, mention of which reminds me that next week sees the first ever Annual Johnt850 Personality of the Year Awards. Lots of jostling for position going on and I’m aware who some people see as the favourite, and I am counting the votes, and there is at least one person who has played a major part in my life this year, albeit unwittingly at times, and well, still lots of time…’s your call.

But seriously, in the meantime, have a really festive thing, folks.

Johnt850, who looked sooooo “professional” tonight in the eyes of one really talented and exceptional writer, but he actually felt he looked more as if he was training for the priesthood. But, hey I suit black. It’s the colour of the night.


I don’t know what I have done, But I’m sure I will in the next five seconds, You see I have a telephone, When people call they don’t stop ringing for me

December 13, 2008

For once, just a jolly fun piece of music from a jolly fun band, The View. After all, it’s been a jolly fun week. I was across at the Beeb earlier this week (much talk of redundancies), was with some folk from the Herald (much talk of redundancies) and had coffee with a high heid yin from a savings bank you can trust (much talk of integration).

Just the climate to be thinking about setting up on my own. I just happen to think The Word Process is so important, don’t you?

But my thanks to my old friends at the Beeb, “old” in terms of knowing me, not age, and can I just say, Anne and Jeanette, “Car Parking Space, number ten”.

Sorry. That’s all I wanted to say. Such a nice ring to it, and such a nice feeling of having arrived, after soooooo  many years, and I did manage to drag myself away. Nice ladies, J, you work with. But, hey, they now have my address and phone number. Book.

(Apparently “Book” is what you get when you type Cool into predictive text in a mobile. Eh, what’s predictive text?) 

But also, Jeanette, only you can pull my Don Johnson sleeves down as subtly as that. I haven’t forgotten all your little tricks, though, you little minx, you. So good, so far!

Almost as subtle as the Partick Thistle fan continually looking at the time on his watch as we gubbed Airdrie Utd, (Death to the Diamonds…’s a petty, lower league thing), 2-1 with their left back scoring an Own Goal. So sweet, but who was that idiot who shouted “Watch!” at one point without telling the team what to watch for? Yes. You’ve guessed. That idiot was me, albeit unwittingly. My face went pink, and grey.

However, it was not mentioned in the pub afterwards, when , obviously, the conversation went straight to the death of Oliver Postgate, a real radical left winger and creator of The Clangers amongst others. I agree. The original Clangers’ dialogue was rubbish, and I never really followed the storyline.

 And as happens, with males of a certain age in a pub, the discussion moved onto other kiddies’ progs such as Ivor The Engine, Eric Thompson’s The Magic Mushroom (I know what I’m talking about) and my own particular favourite, Muffin the Mule.

It was a much more innocent age, that’s all I’m saying, but language and its meaning does change, I thought, when I heard a radio programme discussing people  “dogging” the school. Ambitious, I thought.

Sorry, my gd frnd Clr and the Rainforest Riverman, I did warn you. All these warnings I give should be taken seriously. It could sooooo avoid misunderstandings.

Moving swiftly on….just in case.

But mentioning the new BBC HQ at Pacific Quay and Steve,…. C and Missie K are very patient people but, hey I’m like a coiled spring. No. I have no idea what that means. I have been burning incense sticks recently. No. No reason. One of my neighbours was in the other day. I’m surprised she didn’t notice.

Anyway, the real BH. How sad it is to see so much of it knocked down, but the window I looked out of so often is still there. How I remember early mornings there as a keen researcher, late afternoons as a senior producer, and, very often, through the night, as a newt. Coping with creative highs and lows, I’d call it today.

Which reminds me, Jung Wan, sorry for missing Maggie’s Christmas party the other day. I’d been laughing out loud so much the previous week and missed all the details, he says, lying through his teeth. It’s actually a long story, approx 5,000 new words to the blook long, that’s all I’m saying. And some of them good words, nearly all written through the night, Thursday into Friday.

Let’s just say, however, that not everything I do, I do by e-mail. Don’t worry. It’ll make sense. Trust me.  

And on the blook front, my thanks to L frae Troon for allowing me to swear like that. The twelve hundred words I lost were far better than the ones I temporarily put in. They must be in this computer somewhere. However, copy tasters, I’m soooooo pleased to have ended the blook. And such a marvellous beginning to it as well. I just need another 30,000 words in between. I wrote all of them down on a sleepless night, last Thursday. I just need to arrange them into something sensible. Quite an ambition for me. 

But on the cancer front, I was intrigued to read Kelvin McKenzie, not a man I really want to quote, saying that he remembered a time when you couldn’t say that someone had died of cancer for fear of upsetting the reader. And for every football fan, out there, Yes, I’m thinking exactly the same thing.

Right. Back to keeping it fun. Very nicely, I got my first Christmas present this week but it has no label. How will I distinguish it from the rest of the presents currently under the tree? Well, basically, every other pressie under the tree is for other people and is sooooo obviously wrapped from the same roll of paper bought from Papyrus in Byres Road. For once, Woolworths was busy. Not sure why. Didn’t recognise any of the customers.

And Steve, I don’t want to put any pressure on you about anything, but you know who’s, is wrapped in football paper.

And finally, whilst we’re on the subject of Christmas, next week’s blog will be a Christmas Special, and something special for Christmas may find its way into peoples’ Inboxes this week as well. After that, it’s the end of the year, and there will be the annual Johnt850 Personality of the Year Awards. C, with 12 votes out of 15 on the High Horse Level Committee, you will, of course, remember that according to the constitution, you are ineligible to vote.

And Gary, the punters’ pal, if you want to offer a list of odds based on no information at all, then please get in touch with me.

And after that, 2009 begins, and then who knows? Maybe me and the editorial advisory committee should get together, maybe over lunch. It’s your call, as usual. There’s money in the hospitality budget. We’ll call it the “Sometime This Summer” Lunch. Now, where is that a quote from?

It’s okay. I’m on my last incense stick. It’s okay. I get them from the arcade off Byres Road. No. Not that shop on Great Western Road. I’m not that keen on hookahs. Cough, splutter, sob.

So cya, phonetically speaking

Johnt850, also not eligible to vote under any name

I said would you like to go to the zoo? She said, yeah, but not with you. Twenty seven yards of dental floss and she still won’t give me a smile

December 6, 2008

Yes. Even I have faced rejection occasionally, but beautifully put there by Half Man Half Biscuit and, incidentally, there’s been a few changes to the blogsite so I hope I can cope. I’m not very good with computers, or people. Gulp.

And K-J, thanks for the suggestion of the Joe Strummer lyric, Silver and Gold. Son Brian has exams coming up. It might have been too much for him, but ta.

But can I also say a big Thank You to the two people who, this week, described my cancer as currently being “in remission”. That is just soooo weird. I’d never thought of it in those terms before. I’ve always thought of myself as  a wee bit of a Cancer Fraud cos things have gone so well, so far.

Okay, so my PSA might not have been as large as some people’s I’ve met recently (it’s not size that’s important, L frae Troon) and I might have been larger on the Gleason Scale than most (on the other hand, L), and I never did like the words “very aggressive” (mixed feelings, there), but it’s been an interesting year with lots of fun and laughter. So we’re going to “keep it fun” and keep laughing. I know of no other way. So, so far, so good.

Unlike those bores at the Beeb. Why the need to keep apologising? So what if John Barrowman did get his willy out? It was radio and there was no webcam. Why did someone complain? And to all those people who complained about the Newsnight reporter throwing the Monopoly money off the roof of Broadcasting House in London, every BBC camera crew has a team of invisible magic elves who tidy up after the crew – they’re called the researcher. Trust me. I’ve paid those dues. Often.

And to all those people who complained that Little Dorrit was postponed for a special programme about how Shannon Matthews’s life was saved, just go buy the book, eh? Jeez.

And the reason for these rants, most unlike me I know? See the apology at the bottom of the page. Amongst other things, it’s not easy being your own I.T Helpdesk.

Still, like my gd frnd Clr, I am so excited about Christmas coming soon, (to the extent that I put up half my tree this afternoon. Seriously, I did) except in my case, I scarcely remember two out of the last three and, since you ask (not C, cos she knows already, it’s a general “you”), it’s exactly two years as a recovering alcoholic, and for those that know what I mean, the demon in the sweatshirt is allowed out this weekend. It’s the one scary monster the Vampire Slayer has no control over. How you doin’, Torrance One?

See, now I’m talking about people like C and T1 there’s a smile come back to my face, although it went white this morning at a Christmas Market down the Transport Museum, when a lady at the jewellery stall saw me looking at some necklaces, and said, “They’re very popular with teenage girls.” I blanched at the same time as going red. There’s nothing like a West End rumour, is there, albeit unwittingly?

Incidentally (No. No reason) I broke bread with Son Brian down Byres Road this week (Yes. very nice, thanks for asking, Missie K, and yes, you could have been there, and yes, I was paying, don’t I always, and you could have brought a friend) but he has come up with a really brill idea. Yes. Clubbing in Ibiza. Brilliant. But we need two others to make it viable…..just in case, or did you say “No way” rather than “Ole”? Mmmmm….

Okay, we’ll just go for the launch party idea, then. That’s cool. 

Anyway Good Luck, Missie K, aka the Lollipop lady. I’d listen but I don’t think I can. And Good Luck, Mr Rainforest riverman. I’d be watching but I’ll be in the pub, quaffing a pint of the golden tomato juice. Sorry. I’m easily confused. I get easily mixed up. The temptation will always be there and a lot of this doesn’t make sense to me either. But does it always have to?

But expect the online price of Who’s Who to be heavily discounted very soon, or my name’s not Johnt850. At least when you buy online, taking advantage of the cut in VAT, you don’t hand over the exact twelve pounds only for your pockets to end up with lots of copper you didn’t expect. Or am I getting confused with the salvage yard at the end of our road? And why does that church have no roof?

And delighted to see a local school offering information on binge drinking, altho’ it might not be what I’m thinking, in the way that a tabloid newspaper publishing “how to spot a cannabis factory on your doorstep”, could not possibly have expected all those people wandering about my neck of the woods with their newspapers open at the appropriate page. 

Altho’ I love the Rock Radio reporter who started off a sports report by talking about how Celtic had excited Europe this year. Sorry, Kevin C et al, I think she meant exited. Yes. I should never have had my fingers crossed so tight that night.

And finally, once I’d got the txt , from a very sharp man saying the Thistle game was off, I went to get some lunchtime food. So can I say to the hot dolly, in the top deli, at the heart of Byres Road (I’m taking too many tabloids these days), I never did get round to deciding whether or not to spend Saturday afternoon prevaricating or, possibly, procrastinating? Maybe, that’s why there’s just half a tree up. But I did do some Christmas shopping today, including my pressie for my office Christmas present draw. Looks like I’m giving myself a CD. Wonder where I bought it? And since you ask, this week it was an Emma J suggestion.  

cya, very contritely and pathetically

 Johnt850, aka Edward the Vampire from Twilight


Someone quite close to Johnt850, also called John, has noticed problems with his e-mail. First, some names have been added inadvertently to grouped mailing lists. Don’t know how this happened but I, sorry, he will check these out.

Plus some mail is not getting out which means that some people may not have received replies to recent mails and messages, or, where spotted, I have, sorry, he has re-sent things, such as the latest blook draft, C. I do hope that this means things have not been sent twice by mistake. This is also being checked out.

Everything is extensively virus checked before leaving so that is not a problem. 

No. Thanks for the suggestion but switching Off and On does not work.