Archive for June, 2009

The ice age is coming, the sun’s zooming in Meltdown expected, the wheat is growing thin Engines stop running, but I have no fear Cause London is drowning and I, I live by the river

June 27, 2009

Except it’s not London. It is in fact, Bristol, and we are in fact overlooking the docks, the SS Grate Britain and the River Avon. But that was The Clash and that was London’s Calling. It’s been a long and winding road that has no turning…..or the M4 as the locals call it. But dear listeners, the good news is that I am alive. So far, so good.

I’m sorry. I’m getting carried away. It’s only Englandshire. It’s not like going to somewhere really dangerous like the Royal Highland Show through in the fearsome East Coast, lawless and heathen place, just beyond Cumbernauld, home of etc, etc. And despite what you may hear, there are no werewolves in London, thanks to the Vampire Slayer (gratuitous reference) and what I noticed as I flew down (in a plane) is the number of gardens in London with swimming pools. On the way back it’ll be the number of gardens in Glasgow with trampolines.

But Missie K I’ll be watching out for your conservatory. BBC Al, the blog’s bad taste pal stopped me doing my own extension gag.

So what I have done? Well I’ve seen the rainforestriverman’s back shop. Apparently my Alexisonfire CD’s in the post as is my cheque to him. And, of course dear listener, I fell in love (not with him – good looking but spoke for) but with two good looking women. One who assists him personally, and the other is Sian, the Fudge Maker of Windsor, but then my sister emerged from the shop and pulled me away. Maybe, a good job…..just in case. And we did a lot of good Lebanese that afternoon, rainforestriverman and I. Good food, Lebanese.

And I’ll be duly careful, L frae Troon. What news, prithee?

And then yesterday, the reason for my trip….my visit to the House of Lords. We used Black Rod’s Garden Entrance…..round the rear. He didn’t seem to mind. I’ll explain the reason for the visit another time but I met an amazing woman. I mentioned that I was a freelance journo to the elderly woman (late seventies) sitting next to me. She replied that she had been one as well. ‘Oh, whereabouts?’ said I. ‘Central Africa late fifties, early sixties.’ Flipping Homes!!!!!!!!

Anne Riddoch makes Orla Guerin sound like a real pussy cat as opposed to a tiger; the stories she told about the wars between the tribes that she covered for the Guardian and the Times. I felt so small (temporary). Please feel free to Google the Mau Mau. (Not a band but a dangerous tribe who raped, killed and pillaged their way through the Congo) 

And get this. Long b4 my gd frnd Clr taught me the joy of txt, Anne was doing it by telegraph and telex from war-torn Nyasaland (Wiki it, dear listener). You were only allowed so many words. Sound familiar? A seriously brilliant lady. Seriously.

And so I emerge here in Bristol, home of Casualty and I have seen the flyover where the ambulances crash into the fire engines and the oil tankers at the end of every series, but Charlie always survives. Where would we be without Charlie?

And I found a dear ol’ Fopp shop, and the Banksy Exhibition which is pure dead good, but I didn’t see The Killers in Hyde Park, London, but Jaymi did (mmmm…….neither of us in ASDA at the same time…….mmmmmm) but I did promise reference to one of her fave bands  and I am hoping to go and see Black Velveteens in Box at the top of the town next week, but I’ve forgotten when it is. Emma J, remind me please. Thanks.

Y’see, this is courtesy of the fact that I am now on Facebook, and if I’ve not been in touch, it’s nothing personal. It’s entirely random at the moment. And I’m a wee bit unsure of the etiquette. I mean if the BBC can get into trouble for sending flowers to Jonathan Ross, then what chance have I……….of ever meeting the Fudge Maker of Windsor again? Ah, the joy of words.

But Cathcart minor, thanks for getting in touch just before the taxi arrived. Is your mum on Facebook? Just asking. And I can’t find the final Ellis & Clark episode but no doubt it’s out there, facebookly, somewhere.

Incidentally, can I go a wee bit more arty farty here and say the book I read on the way down was Kneller’s Happy Campers by Edgar Keret, a very funny story about people who commit suicide and where they end up, albeit unwittingly?

And can I take issue with top guitarists Jimmy Page and Jack White saying ‘it’s sad’ that guitar heroes are discovering their instrument through the vid game? I think it’s brilliant. I live in hope that people will want to prove they’re better writers than me, maybe just trying blogging.

And of course, there’s at least one former student out there with whom I worked (for all of three days) who gets a regular byline. Step forward, Lyndsay C, the Record’s Top Teen Angst Queen, who says ‘Strange but true – you don’t have to drink alcohol to have fun’. How many Scots words for steaming did we teach the German students?

And so with days to go before my latest forty-second birthday, I begin to slow down and think ahead to the night’s entertainment beginning with the Cottage Inn (as opposed to anything else). It’s time to publish.

The homing pigeon is primed, the smoke signals are under the bedclothes (it’s a Jimmy Saville reference) and the satellite dish is pointed north.

Oh, and the story as to why I chose sandblasting as opposed to getting the surgeon’s knife? Those of you who remember it, will be pleased to know it was the talk of the House of Lords Terrace yesterday, overlooking the Thames; that and the amazing Anne Riddoch. We just sat quietly and chatted, oblivious, as u do, as u do.


Johnt850, and if a tree falls in the forest and no-one tweets about it, did it really happen? Yes. I passed through Camden.

This came in too late for this weekend’s blog (not a lyric)

June 21, 2009

I’ve just noticed in a newspaper an ASDA spokesman saying, in conjunction with new licensing laws; ‘We don’t see alcoholics  between 8 and 10 a.m. just mums and dads doing their shopping and picking up wine for dinner.’

Em,…You saw me and served me. I just didn’t come in wearing an old brown coat held together by shoe laces. I’ve never done stereotypes and I never will. Closed minds, eh?…..

Normal (?) blogging and stuttering Facebook steps immediately below. Enjoy.

I’ll stay in time and watch you pass by I’ll draw this line and hope you’ll take my side You shouldn’t have to fight alone It’s nobody’s battle but your own

June 20, 2009

I’m not sure about that lyric. I’ve read it a number of times and keep finding different meanings. It’s a band called Alexisonfire, it’s track called To A Friend and it came reviewed by Top Pop Picker, Emma J, whose review led me not only to buy their album (plus new one about to hit the streets) but to buy the magazine Kerrang! I’m not sure I’m its natural demographic but what do I know?

Let’s just say my jelly and jam gag is a wee bit more subtle than Phil Steadlur’s, whoever he is.

But it’s a week that started off on Sunday with the hedonism that is the West End Fest’s Mardi Gras. (See pics on my new Facebook page….did I tell you, btw?) Brilliant weather, BBC’s John Beattie with his top R’n’B Band, Brazilian samba dancers who know instinctively to lean forward when the snappers are present, She-boom, those well known feminist (?) drummers and the Heroine of the Week?…..the large lady in the small purple dress who didn’t need to lean forward to display her best bits but still managed to clamber over a four foot gate whilst clutching her pint of lager. Sometimes I still hanker for the things you can do with a  drink in you.

And on Monday, I travelled over to Govan, to Prostate Cancer HQ, to collect the Roadshow (or tablecloth as it’s known) when I got caught up in a siege situation, as u do, indeed Missie K, as u do. (Were I confident with Facebook at this stage,…..did I tell you btw?)

I asked CSI:Govan what was happening; ‘There’s a woman went mental but we’ve got the wean out.’ As he told me this the rest of his cohorts taped around my car leaving it in the affected area and I had to beg them to let me drive it out whilst seven point turning past three fire engine tenders, five police people carriers and the inevitable ice cream van. Oh, and the name of the Govan street? Harley Street. I kid you not. Streetmap it.

But it was the same day that I saw the best TV prog for a long time…….The Supersizers do the Eighties or something. That was my decade. In 1979 I was not long married and had just started as a researcher at the Beeb. By 1989 I was Radio 4’s man in Scotland, about to separate and with a small but clever son.

How clever you ask? I’ve just been out for early evening Father’s Day Food with him and Katie to Ketchup just off Byres Road, and I paid. That’s how clever. Maybe I should say something about him on Facebook. (Did I tell you….just in case?) Actually there’s more people asking after him than me, and the embarrassment; I asked one BBC person I know, to be my Facebook friend and asked her what she’s doing these days.

Turns out she’s producing the new Sex in the City type prog on BBC3, that’s all. No. She hasn’t replied. Yet. 😦

But the Eighties; the era that started with nouvelle cuisine, witnessed the burning of amaretto wafers in Italian restaurants and finished with pot noodles. Somewhere in the middle, my ex-wife creosoted the garage on the day Charles and Di got married. It should also be stressed that places like Bonkers and Clatty Pat’s entered my life post-separation. Younger listeners. Your mums? Let them sleep. Safer. Just whisper the names but maybe not mine. 🙂

But, anyway the Prostate Cancer Roadshow came from my old alma mater, the Glasgow Met, and it went well, but confidentially so. But big thanks to Robyn for hunting and foraging my lunch and big thanks to L frae Troon for generally looking after me and your txt was duly (clever, eh?) noted. Keep me posted and I’ll liaise generally with the advisory team of Missie K and the Vampire Slayer and take sartorial advice from my bestest friend ever Caitlin.

But if there was ever a moment when my shins needed kicked……. First impressions, eh?

And then there’s my disappeared credit card account. It’s went. It is possible, just possible that recent transactions, like the last six weeks or so, have not been recorded. You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you? Albeit unwittingly, a plan has emerged, but I’m not sure. Y’see I owe the rainforestriverman a fair amount of money and one of the things I’m planning to do when I’m down in London, is to go visit him and his big lock-up. (Believe me it’s not a euphemism).

But big thanks to Ann, Margaret and Noreen from not my own branch of the bank you can trust. Serious ta for helping.

I could spend the rest of the weekend spending money I may or may not have (MPs can do it) but is it ethical? I could maybe chat with my friends on Facebook (did I tell you?….No. No reason) and ask their advice. Actually as I write this I have twenty-two, only two of whom I don’t know (and the word BBC seems to be a common link) but that doesn’t include some people who are Fans of Planet Holyrood. I will be introducing myself to them later.

And then there’s my obvious Facebook dilemna. My thanks to Katie for your wise words. And I’m listening to The Script even as I speak. What are they like live? Oh, and your other words are pretty wise as well. You and I both know the letters on the keyboard over which my fingers are hovering. And thanks for nice words about the blook.

Actually let’s do a quick Hero of the Week, and for once it’s got hee-haw to do with alcoholism or cancer. The actual hero is not 14 year old Ryan McLaughlin, from Drumchapel, who led the Braveheart Childrens’ March on Holyrood looking for Vit D supplements for people with MS like his mum, the gorgeous former Tae Kwon Do champ, Kirsten. It’s your dad, Alan, whose catchphrase is, ‘just a wee favour, John, but would you mind?’ Brilliant YouTube vid (Ryan2cool) , btw, wee man. Once I’ve worked out how to do it….but you know the rest don’t you?

Just hope my words maybe helped somewhere along the way.

And finally, maybe a wee bit more West End hedonism down Ashton Lane this weekend. Musique de la Fete anyone? C’est toujours ton appel.


Johnt850, mentalist but not quite postal

Oh, and I almost forgot. Next week’s show is an Outside Broadcast from somewhere down South, but I’m not sure exactly where and I’m not sure exactly when. I’ve not tested the O.B. equipment (aka the Dongle) yet so who knows. Clry, some things are uncharted territory. Thanks Katie. 😉  The cheque’s now in the post, Son Brian.

He got joo-joo eyeball he one holy roller he got hair down to his knee Got to be a joker he just do what he please….Come together right now over me

June 13, 2009

Another week, another Beatles cover….this time by Aerosmith and it’s for  guitar heroes all over the world (No. No names) but also especially for top pop picker, Heather C.

H, nobody’s listening so picture me as a 16 year old schoolboy (a year before I became Head Boy) brought up in the, then, incredibly small minded North East of Scotland where a big day out was a trip to Aberdeen (seriously). My parents were the exception, but, then again, my mum was from Springburn.

And before the under age drinking started that day we went to an amazing record shop. I was supposed to be into ELP, Yes and Nice (yeugh) but I discovered Leon Russell and Mad Dogs and Englishmen. And from the moment I heard his opening honky tonk rock’n’roll piano I knew two things; I wanted hair as long as Leon‘s (getting there) and I fancied female backing singers 😀

So H, I have ordered a copy of the CD from one of the rainforestriverman’s friends, Claire (eh?) in the Cayman Islands (oh, that one). She tells me it’s wrapped and on its way and when we next meet, it’s yours, minus of course the wrapping.

But you are not Muppet of the Week. This week’s winner was submitted by Missie K who spotted a letter in The Metro where Archie from Motherwell complained about the fact that Hollywood star Audrey Hepburn, in her autobiography, did not mention the fact that she played Dorothy in ‘the cult Scottish film Gregory’s Girl’. It was Dee Hepburn, ya numptie! Please let that letter be real, please, and well spotted, Missie K.

And a further big thanks to you and L frae Troon for gently initiating me in the magical art of Facebook this week where I now have an account under the ntlworld address. It was the ‘non-grouping’ aspect of it all that threw me (I’m being careful here, BBC Al, the blog’s bad taste pal) but I’m getting there (Also thanks to the Vampire Slayer but I’ve got to be careful in case I blow your cover….Innuendo? What innuendo? Where?)

And since you ask, L, it’ll be a combo of Don Johnson and Erik Cantona….and very willingly. And I think my Facebook pic is pretty okay. It was taken by Sandra, my hairdresser, just after she’d cut it. No. I don’t see anything unusual in that.

Cos, yes, I am bringing the Prostate Cancer Roadshow (or tablecloth as we know it) to the Met College Staff Health and Wellbeing Event on Tuesday, 16th, (Hanover Street foyer) so please come along and say hi (if you’ve got good reason to be in the building) and don’t worry; I can answer questions ‘on behalf of a friend’.

Of course, it’s all a ruse. I’m actually checking out my support before I launch my candidature for the position of  Head of that Division. Hazel Blears is my campaign manager. What? Ordinary staff don’t get to vote? Damn. I’d be a shoo-in, otherwise. Anyway drinks are on me. Vote early, vote often.

And can I draw peoples’ attention to

I was in student land for a dinner last night and was reminded of all sorts of voting tricks we got up to, but I couldn’t condone………(This is why tonight’s show is back to being live. Even sober, these dinners take a wee while to recover from)

But I was also reminded of some of the other things we got up to when I met, for the first time in twenty-five years, the silver haired fox, Rocky (for once someone is allowed to choose their own bloggy name), a uny mate of mine. Yes, of course I remember the Sunday night when Mary-Caroline (now no longer…., sadly, but absolutely gorgeous) came to my student flat door and asked, politely, “Johnt850, how do you get people out of jail?”

I was twenty, two hundred miles and two years living away from protective parents, but expected to know everything . Which I did, and still do (except mums….I ‘ve lost that expertise) and so began a bus journey the next day to Kilmarnock Police Station, Kilmarnock Sheriff Court and a cafe where a very nice policeman bought M-C and me our breakfast as well as the four wrongfully arrested felons. I bailed them out and didn’t have to buy a drink for the rest of that term. Yes. I just scraped a ordinary M.A. since you ask.

And no connection, but welcome back from your holiday, Jaymi. Most folk talk about the weather. But you? Sounds more like Ruchill than los Ramblas. And ASDA waited until you were away before they put up the price of the three item breakfast but still a Saturday bargain.

As is the Speedway at Ashfield, but on a Sunday – four men going around a dirt track on motorbikes for four laps. Worryingly, I enjoyed it. My fave moment was the kinda ned kinda guy who went and got two cartons of chips and couldn’t give a toss when they got covered in grit from the bikes going past just as he proffered them to his girlfriends. Believe me, the plural is intentional. So Northern Soul Dave tells me. It’s the Possil.

But can I do a quick couple of thanks (such a simple unassuming word, impossible to misinterpret); To the Daily Express for following up my column in Planet Holyrood but waiting three days, just so no-one would notice (!), and to Anne Johnstone in the Herald (11th June) for drawing attention to the thrills that exist in live football. It’s a wee bit like never having been to Speedway. If you’ve never been to a football match let me know.  Be my guest. There’s probably a grant I can find. You never know until you try 🙂

But (serious finale) we had guests at this dinner last night, as we do. Three serving officers from the Army Medical Corps just back from Afghanistan, and whilst I disagree with some of their politics, they’ve been out there sewing arms back onto soldiers and so on, and then, the incredibly humbling moment, one of them asked how I was keeping these days. My health problem combo may have been unusual but in comparison…..

And so, and finally, and looking forward to continuing catching up with people in any and every way. You know where to find me…..and me….and me…..


Johnt850    ‘I am not a man, I am Cantona’ and then he flips up his collar and sidekicks the ball into the net. Live football? It’s your call. It’s a wee bit different. Like me I suppose. But if you will come into the kitchen……..

She came in through the bathroom window, protected by a silver spoon, But now she sucks her thumb and wanders by the banks of her own lagoon. Didn’t anybody tell her? Didn’t anybody see?

June 6, 2009

Joe Cocker from the incredible Mad Dogs and Englishmen album, and to the guys from Planet Holyrood, I just couldn’t find an appropriate kitchen lyric. It’s funny how in-jokes start, isn’t it?

Cos I met up with my editors on Thursday, men I know from a previous academic existence. For one, his last memory of me as a College tutor was me saying the words, “I’m going to be sick”, leaving the room and returning six months later. (Some ‘memory’, eh?)  The other? Well, he sat in the pub and claimed he’d just seen a giant inflatable turkey wander past the window. Is paintballing a euphemism for something?

Moi? I was behaving myself impeccably until the guy came over to clear the glasses and the background music died down just as I said the words, ‘auto erotic asphyxiation’ (Younger and impressionable listeners, please wait until your mum leaves the room before you look it up. I’ll only get the blame.) and this was before the David Carradine story broke.

To the barman from Rufus T. Firefly and the rest of the albeit unwitting audience, can I just say it’s a track by Slow Draw and should not be confused with the song of the same name by the Grindcore band Devourment and if you want to pretend to be a real investigative journo, the google links should lead you to a recently resigned Tory  MP.

And talking of aspiring journos, I take it you’re all aware of the various local newspaper reporter jobs floating around, or your lecturers and media savvy folks have told you about them. Good.

Anyway it was good to catch up with the guys, swop some stories and chat about the way ahead for the website. And that means I’ve met up with most people now and so far everyone has survived meeting me, so good. I carry no culling lullaby (cf Chuck Palahniuk) but there are some folk out there who did say things just over a year ago like, “Next one’s on me”, “sometime this summer”, and so on.

Can I stress no hidden agendas? It’s the just the last time we met, folks, we laffed, and I enjoy laffing and (anniversary alert) two years six months ago, I had little to laff about. Thirty months, sober and solvent free. To some it may not seem a long time. To me? Like, indescribably wow.

So can I thank everyone – including those who when I returned to work told me on a 1:2:1 basis that at some point I would relapse cos all alkies do – for helping me at various times in various ways. Lots of good news out there, all of it shared and fate is there to be tempted.

I wouldn’t have mentioned it but I have been talking to lots of people this week who have worser cancers than mine ever was, and they say Well Done. My face goes red, but that’s the result of the hormone injections I received a wee while ago. That and the tomato juice in those bars that actually sell it. More news on those injections to come some time this week. Keep watching. Most of my side effects were temporary. C’est tout que je dis.

But yes, I did my first Prostate Cancer Charity stand at Cumbernauld this week just past. We arrived. The organiser said to me, “We’ve got you a power generator.” I said “I don’t need one.” He said, “Aren’t you the Belgian Chocolate man?” I said “No.” He said, “Ah.” and moved us.

But it was a good day and we met lots of people, many wives asking on behalf of their husbands….just in case.

And I also sat in with another volunteer watching him doing a presentation and talk in town. (Note to self: There is nothing in the training notes that says I have to use post-presentation time to chat up the Human Resources manageress Janine. But it was fun. Wedding ring.

However, one of the advantages of pre-reccing, which I’m doing again today, is that I can take a break halfway through and do hunter, gatherer – M & S, Byres Road – and I’ve just met her and her mum. I like the “But this must be your sister” line but it might make some mums uncomfortable. C’est juste moi. C’est tout.)

So I’m all set up to ‘man’ an Information Stand at my old alma mater, Glasgow Met, in the ground floor foyer, at a Staff Health and Wellbeing Day, on 16th June. Be there or be a rhomboid. Looking forward to it already.

Last week’s was also pre-recorded and my thanks to BBC Al, the blog’s bad taste pal who was down in London on re-shuffle day helping to choose the new Celtic manager, or am I getting my friends mixed up? Interesting suggestion following last week’s description of the fight in Asda. Harriet Harman or Caroline Flint? It’s a Harry Hill moment.

Incidentally as a result of C’nauld I missed Clydebank (Death to the Diamonds) in the Scottish Junior Cup Final and whilst a Well Done to Gordon Robertson and the others is deserved can I also pay my own wee tribute to bestest friend ever Caitlin and her incredible family for keeping the senior team going for so long and for being so tolerant of me for about the same length of time.

And, C, I think your Gran’s a brill singer. Obviously I have, but don’t ask me what the songs were. Son Brian has just groaned.

And talking of brill, amazing news from the Vampire Slayer. I am really really pleased. It’s something we’ve talked about quite a bit in the past. Superb. Fantastic. It’s just a shame I can’t share it with anyone else through the blog otherwise it gives away your real identity.  Well done from both me and Missie K.

But, in conversation with the VS I discovered that she and I have something in common (other than the obvious). We both abhor badly designed Chinese garden architecture. No. No reason.

Oh, and Cathcart minor, I tend to tell people  things before they happen but you are worth your credit on

on BBC Radio Scotland. Oh, and btw, how’s your mum? Nice meeting her the other night. Give me advance warning the next time.

So in a cosy, chummy way this week’s show comes to an end. Me? A wee bit more ‘drinking’ later today and, for my first time ever, tomorrow, I’m going to watch speedway. In fact, I’ve just realised why Ashfield is so called. No. It’s no caulder than Springburn.

And therefore, finally, as Jah Wobble said of William Blake; ‘when joy comes, it’s lovely, but don’t hold on to it.’  Where did I read that? In the kitchen. Where else.


Johnt850, It’s leathers, Dave, but not as I remember them.