Archive for March, 2010

My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating Sometimes I wish some one out there will find me ‘Til then I walk alone

March 27, 2010

Yeah, I know it’s Green Day and I know I’ve played it before, but this time there’s a really good reason for it, dear listener, because this week was so, so close to the alcoholic abyss, the black hole of the bottle, etc, etc*. But the trigger came from an incredibly surreal source. So bear with me, please.

* I couldn’t think of one beginning with ‘z’.

I was in a weird mood last week and when we got word that we hadn’t got that commission for the next Radio Scotland programme, my head went down. It’s part of the life of being a freelance within an indie world. It’s cool.

And the signs were there. Even for me I was hyper; sleeping badly cos I’d good thoughts; food, in itself, is not a bad thing.

But I felt that I’d let people down. I’d met some amazing women in the course of the (unpaid) research; women who made my being a (non-practising) alkie with the cancer experience seem easy peasy, lemon squeazy. Some amazing stories. But we didn’t get the gig.

But, there was a major social work related student dissertation ahead of me. We hadn’t agreed a price but I had explained that there’s more to reading/editing than just looking for spelling errors and grammar. A good reader/editor will also offer a draft looking at layout and inconsistencies and make suggestions before agreeing on final version. And I have some training. Publishers’ Training Centre. And I’ll do it on the basis – ‘This is what I’ll charge with student discount, but you pay me what you can afford.’ Seriously. Try me. I’m handy. I’m here. I accept iTunes gift cards….cups of coffee……money sometimes (yeah, the third one’s always the lie)

Fine. Until her mate, a social work lecturer, came in and offered to do it for nothing. Now leaving aside the arrogance of (some) lecturers who believe they can do everything; leaving aside my (unspoken) jibes about offering to deliver social work lectures for nothing; and the ignorance of what is involved in good reading/editing – the lecturer will, quite naturally, concentrate on what he understands, and say, ‘well done’, and not whether the message is properly understood. It’s not his job. And that’s the important bit.  Ho and hum. It’ll end in tears. Mine.

So throw into that, a pretty crappy social life at the moment and things were not good. That’s not a criticism of anyone, btw. There’s not been a lot of football, for example, recently. And PT got beat today. Again.

So, then it happened. My most surreal moment ever in just over four years of addiction. And there’s photographic proof of this. Check Thursday’s papers.

On Wednesday, I was down at Maggie’s Cancer Centre where a former Miss Scotland, Nieve Jennings, was being snapped at a proper press photo call wearing a lovely piece of Ortak jewellery, before it was to be auctioned for Maggie’s. So far, so good. Good cause.

And then she said something that annoyed me. It was patronising. It wasn’t her fault. I think she was badly briefed. (Nice pair, btw, Nieve. Lovely ear-rings, and apparently four of my Facebook friends know you. I am tempted)

And I walked out. (There are some down there who think I’m weird and gay just cos I wash my shoes in my washing machine. To them, I flounced out).

And I walked. For miles. For hours. But I sure as hell didn’t flounce.

And there’s a piece of wasteground at the back of Yorkhill Hospital, where you can only be amazed at the engineering ingenuity of those who get old cars up there before they torch them. And I’m looking for the offsales. Like, I’ve just given up. Like, the worstest, man, ever, since Cold Turkey Sunday. Like, there is no going back.

And I sat down on the remnants of a burnt-out Metro – like a Golf, after it’s been torched. And I thought about it, long and hard (still my fave line) and I burst out laffing. (Not at it, ‘long and hard’, obviously). But at what had just happened.

So, here is – and I am willing to have my shins kicked (No. No reason. I just like it) – a bg thnks 2 gd frnd Clr and an amazing guy who I will never have the privilege of meeting.

For a couple of days I had forgotten to Keep It Fun. That had gone. The stories that the women involved in prostitution had told me had all been told with a smile on their faces, despite everything. Last Friday, that meet in Bellshill, I had told someone I’d never met before, a story about stolen ashtrays, which brought the response – ‘they probably thought you were so drunk you’d never notice’ – and a big laff.

Y’see the drink and drugs demons can’t handle the Fun. They ran, and they ran, and they ran. So careful if you work over BBC way…..there’s demons on the loose. In fact, I think I’m over there this week. I’ll be careful. But I was sorted.

So I put the MP3 player back on, and yes, you’ve guessed it. Boulevard of Broken Dreams was on the turntable. It’s not exactly the most portable of MP3 players.

And then the next day, a Facebook invite to a thirtieth birthday basic drinking thing in the centre of town in April arrived. My only reservation? My age. But then I was told, ‘you act and look younger than forty-two (42) jt850, you’ll be fine’.

That, and Gabriella Cilmi looking gorgeous in the offices of Demus.

So I am back to being soooooooooooooooo incredibly cool. I am a walking Zanussi. So another lost week, but a happy ending this time.

Mine with extra tabasco, please. Cheers. Pretty Hot And Tempting, eh?

cya and definitely keep(ing) it fun

Johnt850

I don’t think I’m breaking any confidences when I say that this research took me into the ‘red light’ district of Glasgow where, one night last week, at about midnight, I told a man I’d never met before, that having his prostate removed did not necessarily mean an end to his sex life. He said,  ‘Come again?’

I said, ‘Highly unlikely.’ And we laffed. True story. As they all are.

I still have mine. No. No reason.

(FOR TECHNICAL REASONS SOME OF YOU MAY HAVE RECEIVED THIS TWICE. SORRY)

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Highways hard in this modern world Battered boys and shattered girls Leather bombers that rule the streets Setting fires and living heat Let me tell you what we been doin’ Neon angels on the road to ruin

March 20, 2010

The band? Seventies’ female rockers The Runaways. And I was delighted to see fellow blogger Jaymi highlighting the same band (I think she sees them through different eyes from mine!) but I doubt if I could choose the track Ch..Ch..Ch.. Cherry Bomb and get away with it.  Student Jaymi can. Guitar heroes everyone, (almost)

And in the interests of fairness I should highlight the fact that the blogmeister blogs as well, but he’s not as good looking.

And, around about the same time, I did once go see an all-female American band called Fanny. Seriously. They’re on YouTube but not very exciting. But be careful how you google.

So I broadcast this week’s show from the palatial office accomodation that now exists within t850 Towers and some invites have been extended but maybe more of that anon. It’s March. It’s stock taking time. The radio doc has been and gone. Another idea is being worked upon, which is taking me into interesting waters.

And http://www.thewordprocess.net/ needs refreshed. Dissertations? Student rates, especially if I know you. Or pay me what you think it’s worth. I could make all the difference……just in case.

But three years ago this month, I was making my attempt to return to College after Cold Turkey Sunday, only to be told by some College management that alkoholics (like me) were scum, couldn’t be trusted and couldn’t cope. But they were very nice (sic) about it and did it on a 1:1 basis so that I wouldn’t be embarrassed!

Two years ago, I had that amazing night when Gillian, Christine, the blonde Gillian and Claire came over and I realised anything was possible (when I say anything……) and whatever may have happened since, it was such a brilliant contrast to closed College management minds. Since then I have replaced all carpeting within the house. No. No connection. My record collection has quadrupled. The interior has been re-painted and I look so much ‘hotter’ than I did before.

Oh, and I had cancer treatment. Successful? So far. So good. 🙂

Then exactly one year ago, I became properly self-employed and whilst it’s not worked out quite as I intended, I feel not unhappy with life. One or two things have still to happen mais……c’est toujours ton appel or we could go on Jeremy Kyle.

Obsession for Men is a compelling blend of botanicals, spices and rare woods. No. No reason.

Now some of you may have heard all of this before but Margaret who runs the burger van at the Nice’n’Sleazy end of Sauchiehall Street hadn’t. She thinks I’m a taxi driver and gives me extra onions. Which is great except I forgot to take the plastic box out of the car Thursday night and on Friday I was on the motorway heading South (well, Bellshill, which is East) and the stink was horrendous. But why, dear listener was there a copy of Hunter S Thompson’s Kingdom of Fear on the floor on the passenger side? 

And Angela, I am as spatially unaware as you. I realised that on the way back from Bellshill as what was meant to be the M74 revealed itself to be Tollcross Road.

And a final word about Aye Write last week. That female student I mentioned? Strathclyde University. One of Brian McNair’s, he was quick to tell the world – but he also highlighted something I hadn’t done – the whole event is a celebration of the power of the written word in all its forms.

But also my diet has improved, I thought to myself as I recently had a lunch of homemade soup and a roll’n’salt’n’balsamic vinegar crisps. West End (ish).

And I don’t drink alkohol but you should see how much Red Bull, Relentless, coffee and tomato juice I get through. Enough to feed any Ideas Monster at three in the morning and frequently does.

And of course this blog is now two years old (almostish). Thanks Clr. Thanks blogmeister. Thanks listeners.

Altho’ I notice another blog, MetroNautical, which reports mergers within Glasgow’s FE sector, refers to a new blogmaster. Accept no imitations. There is only the one blogmeister. But go for it Met College management. Passive resistance is the way ahead! ‘You have nothing to lose but your jobs’. It says so in the staff toilets.

Y’see, the reason I support the British Airways cabincrew action is because their conditions of service are what the rest of the industry should be aiming towards. Don’t attack them.

If only we had a Labour government.

The other thing about Margaret’s burger bar is, if it’s cold, you can rest your arms on the counter and get warm. Rule One of journalism. Get to know the people who run mobile coffee stalls. It’s where taxi drivers get their information from. But as lots of students I know come to the end of their degrees at places like UWS….well you probably got a powerpoint presentation on real information sources, didn’t you? 

(And my thanks to Ms Bothwell Service Station who, when I asked for directions, told me the quickest way was to go through the No Entry sign and turn right. That wasn’t in the AA directions I had printed out. But it worked.)

And, aye, I know I’m in a funny mood. Y’see I’ve spent a fair amount of time, journalistically and arguably unethically, this week with people whose (former) addictions are with different substances from the one I used but when I say, ‘three years and three months, clean and clear’, they say ‘well done, son’ and that means so much to me….and it’s not in an addiction centre or at an anonymous meeting, but at least one of them might be in a home closer to you than you think. Albeit unwittingly.

Sorry. I’ve heard some stories this week where some, now dead, people, didn’t even get a ‘dignified exit’. They didn’t even get the individual abuse, sorry,  ‘counselling’ (!)  I got three years ago.

And, so, if you find yourself in Summerston – not that far from Frampton’s on a Friday night but no ‘gear’, okay? – and you’d like a wee tour of t850 Towers and I know you,….. well you know how to contact me. Please. The infrastructure is in place and the milk is fresh.

Some invites have already been accepted. There are recipes to be sourced.

cya and keep(ing) it fun

Johnt850

And the brill radio broadcaster Charlie Gillett died this week. It was his book The Sound of the City which did so much to ‘inform, educate and entertain’ me in music. Books, music and radio – the ultimate trilogy. Somewhere out there is my copy of the book. I don’t want it back. I want it passed on ….and on….and on. Please. 😉

I’ve never known a girl like you before Now just like in a song from days of yore Here you come a knockin’, knockin’ at my door And I’ve never met a girl like you before

March 13, 2010

Maybe a message but maybe not as you know it….la porte, c’est toujours ouverte pour toi, evidement. Pas de problem. But I do like the notion of an Ideas Monster and I’m happy to feed it any time. The last time was, seriously, three in the morning.

No. It means nothing to me either. And, yes, I did go and see Edwyn Collins on Wednesday night.

But the main event of last week obviously was the new carpets but tw*t/prat/tube of the week award goes to…..me. As some of you may know I was without landline last week, battery problem on cordless, so I swopped over the older radio from bedroom (divorce pressie from ex-wife……the radio, not bedroom). Dead sensible, but see when the wee wummin in the phone says, ‘Please replace the handset’, she actually means you ‘to replace the handset’.

The Virgin repairman (altho’ I don’t think I really was his first) just looked at me in that kinda way that implies I’m not a real man. (I’m typing this in a deeper voice). I’m just not tekkie.

‘What it was was, I was mad.’ (Edwyn Collins)

And then on Friday, I was down at the HQ of Demus International News Inc, and I found myself being interviewed (still not sure for what but it was done professionally) about John Peel, the Godfather of broadcast icons like BBC 6 Music – http://www.38degrees.org.uk/BBC-stop-the-cuts – and I found I couldn’t say ‘Jarvis Cocker talked’. It’s a hard one.

And just cos I was being interviewed by good looking female reporter….I think she was looking for my job description when she asked status, and not ‘divorced’.

‘The possibilities are endless’. (Edwyn Collins)

And I went to a couple of other things at Aye Write (not strictly true, jt) including the Future of the Media Debate at which the star turn was ’21-year-old Lisa Stewart’ – as reported in the Herald, which is presumably the only reason she wasn’t described as ‘gorgeous and pouting’ – but she and some other students were there, getting quotes for dissertations and stuff and networking. Do lecturers and tutors not tell their students about these things?

I’m not going to rant here, and there’s been so much debate this week about the value of going to university, but I do worry about the number of journalism degrees and courses. I know degrees are not easy to get, individually, but of the three BBC Radio Scotland presenters I was talking to on Monday morning (who occupy four hours of prime time news and current affairs broadcasting between them) Gary Robertson does not have a degree, Kaye Adams’s is in Politics and Economics, and Aileen Clarke’s is in Drama and, I think, English.

Mine was a bog standard MA in stuff and I’m still making programmes.

‘Weird but not gay’ (johnt850, following a conversation with my gd frnd Clr)

Jaymi has started a blog (but ‘naming names in this blog rules’ apply), Missie K spills a lot but apologises and the Vampire Slayer has received an invitation from me to an event that may not happen. Oh, and blogmeister, that is a good idea but I do think we should combine it with a pub crawl.

My house looks good but won’t be finished until Son Brian, who picked up the good work started by the Toffee Pudding Four, has been over to do the snagging list (given how busy he is that could be 2015 or even nearer half past eight).

And e’s wee boy is now called 13lbs, 11ozs, altho’ given the amount of milk he brought up over me the other day, he is probably now called 13lbs, 7 ozs.

Ach, no. I’m going to say it. What do you get taught that can possibly last two years at college and two or three or four at Journalism Uny? Are you out there pounding the beat with your notebooks or recorders? Are you accumulating by-lines or are your voices out there on student radio and I’m just not hearing them? Am I Anne Robinson?

I’m not going to name Siobhan M ‘cos that would openly embarrass her but in the short time I worked with her, she is one of the best natural factual story tellers I worked with. I hope that stays. But WTF do I know? I can’t even get guest gigs at Colleges so obviously I know nothing.

If the Times of Evening ever interviewed me for its style pages, my style would need to be ‘too badly dressed to appear on BBC’s patronising Jobless programmes’ and my style icon would be ‘Primark Reject’.

But yet, one of the other highlights for me from Aye Write would be the former student (female) who knew of my cancer but when I mentioned alkoholism, said ‘Shit happens’ and then went on to describe me as ‘looking, like, man, like, ten years younger, wow.’

I am forced to agree. If you’ve not seen me for, say, one year, nine months and a few days, then you don’t know what you’re missing. 🙂 Even for my age (42) I’m pretty hot. So far, so very good.

‘I’m not a racist, but……..’ (John Smeaton)

But the other big moment at Aye Write was the emotion attached to Edwyn Collins and his wife, the amazing Grace. His singing is not too bad, but he did lose the place a couple of times. Seriously I couldn’t say ‘Jarvis Cocker talked’, so it’s not a big problem. And at one stage I whooped. Quite loudly. :$

There was an amazing moment when another stroke victim spoke to him and the sense of a bond between them was of a kinda different feel from that between Grace and Edwyn, but Grace smiled ‘cos she knew. It’s a bond that cancerly I have felt with some other cancer people but not necessarily with other prostate cancer patients and fellow alkies. I don’t like words like ‘being positive’, and ‘suffering’ and ‘recovering’.

That’s why I like ‘keep(ing) it fun’. Albeit willingly. Very.

‘I felt like I was losing my mind. I couldn’t get anybody to understand what I was trying to say.’ (A stroke victim, me in this blog from time to time et pleusieres autres.

cya

Johnt850

Oh, and just in case you didn’t see BBC Radio Scotland’s Internal Weekly Newsletter which was leaked to me by about seventeen people at PQ (ta, but wasn’t Countdown on Friday afternoon? lol….), Jeff Zycinski, Head of BBC Radio Scotland, whom I’ve always admired, not only described the prostate cancer prog as one that could save lives, but said ‘when people ask me to define public service broadcasting, I always point to programmes like that.’  Like serious wow. I cried. 😥

Me? I just saw it as an easy way way to make money. Honest. So, I did. So, let’s see what the next idea is that the Ideas Monster comes up with. Mind you, WTF do I know?

There’s a monkey on my back makes me act like that; There’s a monkey on my back makes me talk like that; There’s a monkey on my back.

March 6, 2010

Can I stress that that was Monkey 23 by The Kills and not Monkey on my Back by Aerosmith which has lots of drugs references? As if I would. Make drugs references. That is.

And no. I don’t see Monday morning’s doc on prostate cancer as being a line drawing experience. So many friends and family have asked me in recent years to draw lines. Some lines are not meant to be drawn. Ever. Maybe Monday will explain something but it’s not my story. I just got paid to tell it.

‘Ultimately it’s all about storytelling using the most appropriate medium.’ (JC from Reid Kerr.)

*But first, an apology.*

*Last week I told of an event where Gordon Brown threw a tangerine into a laminating machine and then went on to tell of the time I swore in class at gd frnd Clr. That last bit was true and I’ve been apologising since. The rest was false. I, like LBC, The Sun and the Telegraph, was fooled by the amazing Robert Cooper. It was a spoof and I fell for it. Sorry. Check robincooper.co.uk *

So, the week has been taken up by a lot of doc stuff, altho’ I’m glad it was my co-producer, Nick, who had to fill out the compliance form for the BBC and log four examples of erectile dysfunction within twenty eight minutes. You can get tablets for that. I-pads they’re called. Sorry?

So, I’ve not had the chance to plan this blog (Don’t even think it!). I would describe it as a veritable pot-pourri of my thoughts but when I asked the Reverend Ian Paisley what he thought of the idea, he said ‘There’ll be no pot-pourri here.’

But it was a week when at times I put pro journo behind me and was a cancer volunteer for a while. At an antiques fair down at the Kelvin Hall. You’d be amazed at what you can pick up there. Altho’, being honest, it was more a casual exchange of phone numbers. I’m still waiting for her call.

hahahahahhahahhaha….I’ve just realised. Sorry. Unplanned.

Anyway, I also bought a lovely wee velvet kinda jewellery box and the guy said, ‘Is that for the woman in your life?’. Well, the upshot is he’s decided not to press charges.

And, Vampire Slayer, what a jolly hockeysticks fun conversation that was the other night. Frightfully jolly. I’ve decided not to download The 69 Eyes. (69?) They are stereotypyical Finnish rockers and I don’t do stereotypes. But I did download Halestorm (not your cup of R&B tea) with the gorgeous Lizzy Hale.

Female guitarists. Doncha’….doncha’?………………………I’m still laughing from the ‘call’ thing………………just in case. 😀

And Missie K, u 2 are one with me about the three. (If I repeat that, a la Stewart Lee, I can’t help but feel a railway bridge will be blown up somewhere.)

Patsy Kensit is 42. So am I. So far. So good.

And socially things are picking up. Some good things last week and I’m going to some Aye. Write. Stuff. And saw some of you earlier today when I picked up tickets. Amongst other things planned is Edwyn Collins. But he’s the same night as PT now play Ayr, a match re-arranged by those bigots who run Scottish football, the type of people who make Celtic play under blue skies and Rangers play on green grass. (Thanks, Limmy, mate, for that line.)

And I’m going to a young lady’s 18th next Saturday. Ignore what I’m about to say about age below.

And Facebookly, I add to my collection of friends, students from times before recent ones – Hi Catherine – and BBC friends reunited, including one well known female sports presenter who almost lost us both our jobs because I thought a guest she’d booked was a man dressed up as a woman. An easy error, albeit unwittingly.

This presenter was also present to let a health visitor in to to see Son Brian weeks after his birth, at his mum and me’s house cos he had been abandoned, sorry, entrusted to a brill nineteen year old whom we’d met just days previoulsy, but she was from Knightswood. It did Son Brian no harm and age is never a barrier. Or shouldn’t be. C’est toujours……….. See above.

Apparently scientists are to study whether loud music makes people drink more alcohol. I hope not. The Cult, since you ask.

And I couldn’t help but notice all the tabloid trivia about affairs of the heart (or somewhere in the human body). My thanks to the tabloids who described a city centre bar where I occasionally drink/have drunk (Moskito) as ‘trendy and swanky’. But I have never played pool there at eleven o’clock on a Saturday night. Nor, possibly, did Alan M.

But my fave tabloid tale concerns Hawick Common Riding. It gets better, but that in itself is a good start.

26 year old Paul Robson had booked an escort from an escort agency by txt. He then gave away his mobile to his then fiancee. (Last week I mentioned how some ppl don’t use ‘reply’ functions. What is it about ppl who give away mobiles (Ashley Cole?) without using the delete button?) Julie, his then fiancee saw the txt and then red.

And, this is my fave bit, the irate Julie was pictured in the paper, with her quote; ‘It’s all been too hard and I’ve had enough!’………and the pic is her eating an extra large sausage out of a hot dog roll! You couldn’t make it up. I don’t.

And finally, kinda related, was journo Andy Collier and Prof Brian McNair discussing the reporting of a well known public person’s possible problems (coming to a tabloid near you soon) which is a kinda shorthand way of saying Brian is the author of some of the best works I have read on pornography. Rousing, so they are. Inspired further research, so they did.

Yes. Next week my computer does go in to get refurbished. Yes. I am practising my plea in mitigation.

cya and keep(ing) it fun

Johnt850

Y’see, in some respects, creative writing fiction is easy. All you need is an idea. They’re ten a penny. See above, and it’s unplanned this week.

Once you have your characters, you can invent what they do. And you can invent dialogue.

This last few weeks I have been entrusted with real words from real people talking over real fears and telling real stories about the biggest male cancer killer. Really.

(I’ve just heard a trail. Apparently we’re demystifying prostate cancer. Aye. Right)

I just hope I’ve done Gerry, Ricky, Nurse Edi, Sue, Peter, Ross, Pauline, Larry and Doctor Rob justice. If I haven’t, sorry. It was me. Not Nick. Not JB.

Sorry. You’ll have to excuse me. I’ve lifted all the carpets in my house. New ones arrive this week. Suddenly, there’s lots of specks of dust in my eyes……all soixante-neuf of them.

The graveyard calls…………..Just in case the keyboard gets wet.

‘calls’……hahahahahaha……..ach, maybe one day. Hope springs. 🙂