Archive for February, 2010

These people are weird in here And they’re giving me the fear Just because you know my name Doesn’t mean you know my game….Inside the outsider (on my own again)

February 27, 2010

So last week I mentioned Camus’s l’etranger (the outsider) and this week a complete stranger walks up and hands over a copy of the latest Marina and the Diamonds CD with the words; ‘This is for you, wee man. It has a track called The Outsider.’ Does this blog get read or does this blog get read?

Kinda like that. Except it wasn’t a complete stranger. It was a record plugger in the global headquarters of Demus Productions and, to be honest, I didn’t really want tickets for Mika. So the CDs kinda made up for it. A kinda just in case scenario.

But Marina did do Oran Mor just slightly along the road from me but ‘lacklustre’ was the word.

So this week is defo a documentary free zone other than to say it’s done, it’s dusted and in the hands of the BBC at PQ with a planned tx (transmission time) of 0900 on Monday, 8th March. I’d like to thank my mum, my dad and….well, actually my biggest thanks must go to Nick’s incredibly talented, multi tasking and gorgeous workforce aka Linda who fed and watered me throughout the three days it took.

And to Nick for all his faith, hope, charity, and money which has gone through various bank accounts before ending up in the hands of a magic carpet dealer in Milngavie*. I’ve arranged a delivery and fitting date but not actually chosen or paid for the carpet yet. It’s not just the blog, dear listener, that is difficult to understand at times. It’s me. 

*See me, see dealers in magic? See the past. It’s all there.

So please, dear listeners, please, I want to go out and play. Previously, when I did these things at the Beeb, I could knock off at, say, ten o’clock at night (the call of Clatty Pat’s) and not go back until say mid-day the next day. These days, it’s all on a memory stick. I keep forgetting that. It kinda took over. So any thoughts for playtimes are good. Please? 😀

Oh, and any thoughts about future work ideas are good and those nice people at the Comedy Unit have been in touch about doing some more writing for them. Yes. I can do political and sensitive and will. But, seriously, any ideas for me or for my business at would be good. It’s all about funding some longer term projects. Ho hum. Lucky I’m young.

I think people as well have backed off a wee bit from me (either that or I’ve said something really bad somewhere) so I can’t report much on what my chums have been doing, other than well in exams. Missie K can speak dead good foreign, the Vampire Slayer has gone off Berlusconi (I didn’t ask. Sometimes it’s better not to) and bestest friend Caitlin has put her entire life and career in my hands.  I’m not worried. 😦

I’ve not really noticed what’s happening in the world except….Gordon Brown’s a bit of a bully, I seem to have heard. Apparently he once hurled a tangerine into a laminating machine whilst in a rage (claimed a factory worker). I once worked with a BBC TV news producer (who’s still working in print) who’d have used the laminating machine to f******g laminate any factory worker who made such a claim. Malcolm Tucker is based on real people.

So how were you as a tutor, then, at the College jt? You mean apart from the famous gunfight at the OK Corral with the Interior Designers in Florence Street (in-gag for Met people)?

Well, actually, I did once tell my gd fnd Clr to ‘f**k off’, in class (I realise that’s the second time I’ve used that word. I’ll check it with BBC Al later). No. I know. Unbelieveable, eh? No. No reason. Until then  I thought Thrall was a Viking god. Ever since………Albeit unwittingly. Il dit tout, n’est-pas?

But can I thank another one of my former students, Angela, who explained to me what is involved in methodology and jolly worthwhile it sounds too, I thought, when I discovered I did not have the notebook with the script in it and I had to retrace my steps through various West End bars. Once upon a time, dear listener, once upon a time, that would have been an interesting journey.

And my thanks to the people who recently serviced my car (I’ve done that gag too often and will avoid the obvious carpet laying ones as well when the time comes). For the first time ever, my playing of a CD (The  Bronx since you ask) was interrupted by the traffic report and then it started to tell me about school closures and it went back to the CD. How does it know I have no kids of school age? I am gobsmacked.

But I am having computer problems. I have an erratic tool box. No. I have an erratic tool bar. Sorry this doc has taken over my life (Incidentally, L frae Troon count the number of times that phrase, y’know that phrase gets mentioned) and the new TV stays in the box.

And finally, I didn’t really expect to get this far, so I will go away and will do a final personal publicity push in a couple of days’ time and then will sit back and wait for the offers to flood in. Aye. Write.

cya and keep(ing) it fun and wearing the blue man cancer badge with pride.

Johnt850 and, hey, I like feedback as much as anyone else. It’s called the ‘reply’ thing on the toolbar.

Incidentally, and I don’t know why this bit has become the serious bit but, like the rest of my life, it is unintentional. I don’t mean my mum didn’t intend to have me or anything like that. No. She had kept my sister’s old clothes aside and they fitted me for many years. 

Anyway I was present in Demusland at an off-the-record briefing about something else they might be doing and somebody used the phrase ‘a bit of an alkie’. It’s a phrase I probably used once upon a time myself. So I smiled quietly. After all I think I’ve proved that I’m not the ‘scum’ some college management described me as when I first went back to work. And I’ve proved I can more than cope. 🙂

No. It was only later in the day it hit me, as Nick twiddled with his knobs and told really bad prostate cancer gags – none of which are in the doc which I’ve managed to avoid mentioning. So far. So good.

No. I’m going to get a t-shirt printed and it’s going to say;

 ‘See me? Total alkie – not just a bit of one.’


We drive all alone at night, A never ending begin. Sweet as a curse just out of reach, Awakens the dead end part of me and, oh, Now more wandering. Just me and my dead end friends again.

February 20, 2010

Them Crooked Vultures there with what could be the theme song for anyone who goes Party Crashing. At Nighttime. In cars. But what do I know? 😉

I’m the kinda guy who sits in a posh hotel at the top of Byres Road and talks about the old BBC being a listed building but I couldn’t remember whether it was Class A, B or C . There was a silence until someone leaned over and said, ‘I think you mean Grade A, B or C. Class A, B or C refers to something else.’ Oooops.

And in the same geographical area, this week’s driver for the away game at Dundee suggested a pick up point on the corner of a Kelvinbridge street and GWR. I thought we were strike breaking by going back in time. 

(I can wait, listeners, I can wait)

But before I go on not to talk about the radio feature doc I’m doing (It is possible that I may be able to use the word ‘producing’ as I’ve now done the relevant BBC modules…..oh, you are so safe with me dear listeners, so safe, so far, so good) I want to introduce this week’s Hero Of The Week. Me. Johnnyboy.

Presenter John Beattie and I had recorded some interviews at the Beatson about prostate cancer and I was walking back to the Demus Multi-Media Global Offices in the leafy West End when I saw an old lady lying on the ground being supported by an old man. I rushed over and said those words we all feel the need to say under these circumstances; ‘Do you want me to phone an ambulance?’

They looked blankly. I said it slowly. ‘Do you want me to phone an ambulance?’ They still looked blankly. So I did. 999 but not necessarily in that order.

(Do you remember that line, Son Brian, Clr, rrm and anyone else who read Chapter Zero of the blook, to which I plan to return?

And, yes, I did walk up and down, talking in a loud voice, drawing attention to myself (wearing black as I do helps), saying things like ‘No. I see no signs of bleeding…Yes. I will stay with her.’ Please feel free to swoon in admiration.

And, yes, when the ambulance came close I did walk out into the centre of the (G)reat (W)estern (R)oad thus risking life and limb, altho’ with an ambulance arriving, I felt reasonably safe, and, yes, I did point heroically towards the body, I mean, old lady, and walked quietly, on my way. Yes. You may touch me.

Sorry. But you did ask. Didn’t you? No. No reason.

But all I want to say about the doc which goes out on the morning of 8th March, presented by John Beattie with phone-in immediately afterwards presented by Kaye Adams, is that there is an amazing amount of good material there and my through the night paper edit (fuelled by caffiene) was worthwhile. I got it bang on. First time. Three and a half hours down to just the right amount. To say more would give away trade secrets, but I’m sure all student broadcast journos are taught these things anyway.

Editing and scripting and recording and payment all this coming week…..well three out of four, anyway.

And today was another vain but glorious defeat in Dundee – City of Discovery, where the opening greeting from a local resident was ‘Any of you want to buy designer jeans?’ We made our excuses and walked on.

So, Missie K and the Vampire Slayer and the blogmeister are doing well with exams  and stuff and, yes, VS, I am thinking along those lines (basically that’s a quadruple entendre, I admit it), my gd frnd Clr has introduced me to a new word but I realise it’s an existing practice of mine (evidence above) and the rainforestriverman played to a sellout gig at Glasgow University during the week. I, meantime, have a new TV (black) sitting in a box hidden behind a chair……just in case……. have lifted almost all the carpets without ordering new (but they will all be the colour suede), discovered that a ‘masticating juicer’ is not an insult and attended a formal dinner with the W(h)iners’ Club the other night. Ach, some of them are getting to be getting grumpy old men, masticating juicers the lot of them.

Or maybe it’s me ‘cos I’m the sober one these days and, whilst I’m obviously relaxed where alkohol is concerned, maybe I’ve no inhibitions to lose. That seems to worry a lot of people. At times I feel like Camus’s l’etranger, not the stranger but the outsider. For once, I don’t know the answer, cos I don’t know the question. (Yup, you can guess what time of morning I wrote that paragraph)

But I am 42. Altho’ someone did say to me the other day, ‘Aye. Your alkoholism and cancer have taken quite a lot out of you. I’d have said late forties.’ It’s my hair. Omg! It looks like a young Ian Beale’s.

I’ve stood in Albert Square. Serioulsy. BBC Elstree Studios when it did Top of the Pops there. That was the Ian Brown night. I was told the next morning. Actually, it is possible that I stood in Albert Square with Ian Brown. It was that kinda night. Four Jocks. Four Mancunians. Four hours. One BBC Club.

And finally, why I’ll never be rich. Wearing my other hat, my business hat, I received a request from someone not known, honestly, to me or you, dear listeners, asking how much it would cost to read and edit 4,000 words, she (I think) has written for a short story contest. Please, businessppl, don’t shout at me, but I may just have introduced the concept of No Win, No Fee to editing. Why? Because I can.

Dissertations, essays and articles can be done on similar, but maybe not exactly, the same terms. Try me. I’m cheap, I mean handy. No. I mean, I’m an easy touch. Obvioulsy. Discounts for friends and family and former students of mine. Not rich but happy. 😀

And she might just win. I’ll keep you posted.

cya and keep(ing) it fun


And this week’s serious note is a straight lift from The Sun. 18.02.2010. page 54.

‘Tom is angry at the way alcoholics are treated in this country. He says; ‘Most drink addicts are not down-and-outs. They are like me – functioning alcoholics holding down good jobs’.’

Altho’ in my case, getting cancer diagnosed just months after I’d cold turkeyed, was not a good career move. I blame my hedonistic lifestyle of the previous few years. Diet can help or hinder. Albeit unwittingly.

There’s a word I’m looking for to describe so much of the above. What is it again? Eh bien, c’est toujours ton appel.

And Janey said, ‘Hey little brother, don’t you think it’s time that we go.’ So we closed our eyes and said goodbye to Gypsy Angel Row. Felt so right. Together we moved like spirits in the night, all night, in the night, all night…(fades……….)

February 13, 2010

Y’see, for me, there is only one game in town at the moment and that is these programmes I’m ‘doing’, for an okay fee, for BBC Radio Scotland and whilst I’ve got marvellous folk like Nick and John and Linda all doing things to make sure it happens, it doesn’t mean I don’t have doubts. And last Sunday, after I had logged about three hours worth of good material with more to come, I panicked.

And where do you go when you panic? Torrance. Obviously. Not to the Vampire Slayer’s house (and well done in Italian, VS), but to the home of the real Janey, where I metaphorically threw all the tapes (ask me later) at her feet. She looked so calm, in that calm kinda TV director kinda calm way, and said two words………., which will remain with me until the morning of Monday, 8th March but it’ll be worth it.

And then it all came back to me….all the wee tricks; the pauses, the importance of wildtrack, the word ‘so’, the running together of certain phrases, all the stuff that some people don’t teach, cos some people are so keen on looking at the heart beat monitor involved in digital editing these days that they don’t listen. They don’t use their f**king ears. Sorry. I am a programme maker who appreciates all the help over the years given by experienced audio people. Rant over.

And that was Bruce Springsteen and the e-Street Band, btw. Incidentally, the Dykeenies (of Cumbernauld) who I’ve not mentioned for some time, were the first signings to King Tut’s Own label. In 2006.

I use a phrase ; ‘I can work with you’ when I know I can and it means exactly what it says. That moment with J came in Kinning Park library a wee while back when, in return for interviewing them, Govan Old Folks insisted we do a talk to them for an hour about the BBC. The ‘I can work with you’ moment comes with the fits of laughter around the corner in the car park after. Ta, J. (And yes, J is millions of years younger than me……it’s broadcasting. Age is irrelevant. Talent counts)

Let’s move on….just in case. I can only make a point so often. So why bother? J’ai mes raisons.

But before we do, I didn’t apply for that job in Afghanistan. It was more tekkie than I am. It was with the institute for war & peace reporting. (their lower case…..another reason I didn’t apply) but I want to quote from the job spec;

‘working and managing staff in a hostile environment’….I’ve been in some newsrooms in my time, but……

And I noticed someone else’s blog which said that ‘any attempt to describe johnt850 would be like trying to explain fractal mathematics to a Tech Drawing teacher’. I was confused. What’s a Tech Drawing teacher? I threw a bit of wood at one of mine once. Serioulsy. I don’t like being ignored (awaiting some replies at the moment) or being blocked. I take the huff easily. But I can take it back. Honest.

(Unfortunately, to link to that blog would break a rule of this blog in that it would identify someone. I mean it’s not as if ppl know who my gd frnd Clr is, or bestest friend Caitlin or Son Brian……okay. That last one might be easier than some.)

Incidentally, how many people who complain they don’t understand this blog watch Lost on Sky 1?

So the entire house is going to get carpeted (easier than hoovering), I’ve bought some new recording gear (Damn you rrm and the competitive prices your corner shop offers when it comes to buying an edirol r-09hr) and I’ve still to buy the new TV and the car’s just been serviced (lucky car) and the house is a tip (Missie K, you can cheer me up any time you like… choices are good) and I’ve already bought tickets for the things at Aye Write I plan to go and see but I’ll maybe have to pass on the FilmFest but maybe go to some of the less well known stuff at the ComedyFest and the screenplay’s sitting there, saying ‘Workshop me!’……Eh, Red Bull, black coffee and Alpen breakfast bars since you ask. So far, so good. 😉

So maybe, L frae Troon, I might yet have that party…….same guest list as before ‘tho. 🙂

And a quick public service anno on behalf of a friend of mine, Katie, who works in the health world (No. Not that Katie) and is carrying out research that might be of benefit to contact lens wearers so if you can help, please do so.

And totally unrelated, my fave sports story of the week comes from 1970 and the baseball pitcher Dock Ellis who was having a bad time in one game, and his team-mates couldn’t work out was wrong. Turns out he was ‘high’ on LSD and thought he was throwing ball at Jimi Hendrix who was hitting it back with his Fender Stratocaster. He also thought that one of the umpires was ex-Pres Richard Nixon! Cool, eh? 😀

Actually not a dissimilar personal reaction to the hormone implants I was on when I first started my treatment for my cancer. Says a lot about my teaching. No-one noticed.

And when I get bored in supermarkets I like to slip a pregnancy testing kit into the trolley of the people in front of me. Particularly senior citizens.

No, tomorrow begins the rough scripting and then the fine tuning and editing can start (incidentally that invite, and you know who I’m talking to, is not ‘watch it’ type stuff. When I edit, everyone gets involved. You’ll get a three o’clock in the morning message soon time) but not in the wide open spaces of PQ but in the leafy West End, just along from one of the city’s top hotels. Carlsberg doesn’t do independent production companies but if it did, it would do Demus Productions.

And the Radio Times billing has gone in. And Kaye Adams is presenting the phone-in part of the prog. Me? Nervous? Mais, oui. Beaucoup. Plastic stirrer, anyone?

cya and still keep(ing) it fun


Oh, and a serious moment. Former Met student Mohammed Atif Siddique remains convicted under The Terrorism Act of setting up websites and thus providing links to bomb making and weaponry instructions. His ‘numptyness’ could still cost lives.

And Nicola Sturgeon? I wonder if she still has that toffee yogurt coloured bomber jacket which, with her hair longer and softer coloured, made her look like a young Suzy Quattro. Yes. I would have. No. I didn’t. No. No reason. Govan, since you ask. A wee while back.

Here comes a strangest reflection Throwing a shadow on the wall Breaking down all my defences The distance is nowhere at all….Beautiful friend, beautiful friend

February 6, 2010

Nice song there, sung by The Undertones and for no-one in particular but playing it at the end of a week when it’s been nice to have friends, face to face, txtually, facebookly and around ‘cos I’m going to be kinda weird the next couple of weeks or so.

Don’t even think it, ‘cos you know it’s not original and not befitting of you, and you, and you, and especially you. Be creative.

Mind you it’s nice to know I still have my uses 🙂 And I’ve not heard yet. (Okay, that’s clrly the deliberately obscure bit over and done with)

Naw. The hard work has started on the programmes I’m involved in for BBC Radio Scotland and I’ll say a wee bit more later, but the memories have returned….albeit unwittingly.

For example, I was recording an interview in the Milton in Glasgow which was where my uncle, aunt and cousins lived when our folks brought me and sis down to Glasgow for holidays. Y’see, to me down from the North East, Glasgow was exotic and my cousins were amazing. They lived in a  tenement with a balcony for drying clothes, they listened to a radio station after dark (Luxembourg), they ate potato fritters with their chips and they had their own bus terminus.   

In Peterhead the terminus was in the centre of the town but in the Milton it was on the doorstep and you could sit in the bus until it was ready to leave. It was amazing. I have always been easily pleased. Mes besoins sont simples.

But I did celebrate the end of these interviews by buying an ASDA Chinese meal for two. That’ll keep me going four days….just in case.

However, and I should maybe have mentioned this to Son Brian, I have seen a contract job I intend to apply for. In radio. In Afghanistan. Serioulsy. My lips are sealed but I may need referees. Gd frnd Clr and BBC Steve….the last time you reffed for me it worked. Can you think of a good reason why I should go to Kabul?

No, I’m going to say a few words about the radio thing and then not mention it again until tx, sorry, transmission on Monday, 8th March on BBC Radio Scotland at 9 o’clock IN THE MORNING in the prestigious Investigation Slot where people like the award winning journalist Eamonn O’Neill, of Strathclyde University’s MSC in Investigative Journalism, have had programmes. That’s prestigious. That’s knee-tremblingly worrying.

Yes. It’s a 28 min documentary about prostate cancer but it’s not a medical look at tests, symptoms and treatments; it’s about emotions and tales of love. It asks why, when it is officially  the biggest male cancer killer in both Scotland and the UK, men (your dads, brothers, boyfriends and husbands) are scared to talk about it. The answers are interesting.

Well, not all men and their wives. My presenter, 6ft 15 inches high John Beattie and I have spoken to a number of brill people (with the medical interviews still to come) and it falls to me to listen, log and edit almost 3 hours of material down to a level where we can talk script and then edit and then record and then edit….and then there’s the phone-in and then there’s the offline stuff, but bestest friend, Caitlin, we can do it. (And a big thanks to Nick at Demus Productions as well and, indeed, whilst I’m at it, to Janice Forsyth for letting me sit in on her interview with Joan Armatrading. Illuminating.)

As with every recording some of the best stuff happens after the recorder is put away. Yes, L frae Troon, I have an amazing erectile dysfunction story for you. Not only has it nothing to do with me, but his wife supplies the punchline!

This ASDA Chinese meal is awful. It is bowfing! 😦 😦 😦

And as for this Facebook doppleganger nonsense….Erik the floodstalker chose a young Robert Redford before me. Actually Erik, I have just had an idea. I’ll be in touch.

And whilst on the subject of friends, I noticed that someone I started at the BBC with, a long time ago, had her birthday this week just past and she is the same age as me as well (42). I wonder exactly what Kirsty Wark’s doing these days. Talent and vision, a heady mix. I’d have been happy with either. No. No reason.

And ppl like the rrm tell me to move on and I explain why it’s hard, sometimes, and I’d like to thank Glasgow City Council for the glass only recycling bin into which I threw an empty glass bottle on top of another glass bottle only for my neighbour Mary to say, ‘I hope that’s gin, jt, and not ginger.’ Oh how we laffed. It’s fun but it’s a memory. 

Oh, there is so much happening at the moment. I sure could use a graduate trainee/work experience person to handle the PR side of it, particularly now the house is tidy, but they would have to help me choose carpeting for the whole house. Any applicants? And I’ve still to get a new TV (thanks for the heads-up Son Brian….I’ll find the money somehow) but I have been able to watch the amazingly well script-edited Little Prairie Dog from morning BBC2 on BBCiPlayer. Nice one, Jayne.

Both Jayne and the Vampire Slayer live within yards of each other but have never met. Now, that’s weird. But nice pix, btw, VS, all 50 of them. Slowly, since you ask.

Actually I was reminded, today, of the fact that my lifestyle changing sticky toffee pudding night was first mooted around about this time just two years ago. How so, jt850, you ask? Um, I knocked over the stones in the mini buddhist garden I keep, which, if you remember G, C, G and C, was re-arranged that night and has provided such good feng shui ever since. 😉 So far, so good.

cya and still keep(ing) it fun and tidy


Oh, and a wee addendum to last week’s alkoholic special. I was talking to a guy last week with whom I might do some creative business and he has some of my background, know what I mean, and he asked if I’d actually given up alkohol and I said, ‘No. Not really, I just haven’t had any since Cold Turkey Sunday, three years and just under two months ago and have no need or plans to do so.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘in that case, if you haven’t given up, you can never relapse, can you?’ 

Oh, I so much want to walk up to some people and just say Get it right up you but that would be as small minded as them, wouldn’t it?  Or would it? Weird, eh?

‘The alternative is really unreal, beautiful friend.’ (The Undertones)