Archive for June, 2012

All of a sudden I’m overcome by a feelin’ of brief mortality, Cos I’m gettin’ on the world, Coming up on forty-one years, Forty-one stony gray steps towards the grave, You know the box awaits its grissly load……

June 29, 2012

And that dear listener is why, on this weekend, when I celebrate the fact I was born – and may have died on 10th/11th December 2006 – is why, when I have to define myself by a number (age), I made the decision to remain 42 for the rest of my life; grammatically erroneous and nothing to do with Douglas Adams and the meaning of life.

And such random jottings may explain why, this week, when I was in the school library and had to ask a question of a specific lady librarian, she looked up and muttered the immortal words; ‘oh, it’s you.’ They didn’t exactly scan the horizon for Study Buddie Fi, but it’s a different place from the one where we were continuously told off.

I have to work there as the library on the t850 estate (just above the west wing) was burned down in the strange fire of recently. Times had been hard and I’d had to lay the groom off (and Skippy has just prevented me from the obvious sentence involving the maid) but the unexpected insurance money was very helpful.

However work has started on planning the Domination degree and it may be easier than I thought. Twice I have typed in certain keywords such as stigma and alcoholic and twice I have been offered, on Google, this blog. The worrying thing is that somewhere in the world, I may be quoted as an expert on the subject. Naw. I just suffered abuse when I returned to work from my own breakdown.

And I sit in a seat which gives me a good view of the entrance area where a flyer for the business – – is on a door. And I saw someone look at it. And they read it. No. They haven’t been in touch. Yet. But for someone as modest as me it has been jolly exciting. And I smuggled a hot drink in when no-one was looking. I am that kinda hellariser,

Incidentally, Sharon, I was invited to a fourball in Fife. I thought there was something fishy about it. I don’t play golf. So I didn’t see any point in agreeing to play a round

And mention of Fi…..there was a piece in the Record of Daily about a couple of ppl on that flight from Papa Westray who had to leave the plane cos the wind was blowing in the wrong direction. Apparently the tea room wasn’t open until 11 am. If this happens to you, do what we did. Go to the youth hostel. It’s always open and it has a kettle. I have a photo of that kettle. Iam that kinda hellraiser.

And can I say welcome back from holiday to e and AJ. And can I say ‘sorry’ to AJ for tripping over the names of those dinosaurs towards the end of the afternoon but it is a long time since I have spent over two hours reading out loud. 🙂

And finally, my own personal well dones to the Vampire Slayer, Missie K and Blondie – three survivors of the Sticky Toffee Pudding Nite but now graduates summa cum laude 😀

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? Yup. It’s maybe why I don’t do cord cutting.

Johnt850, who has just discovered an Alabama 3 album he doesn’t have. This may be my own personal way of celebrating the fact that I was born.

So I was going to do the serious bit below the line looking at my recent visit to the cancer centre and a minor scan I had for a problem that goes back to the GP who may wish to refer me to….anyway.

I visited the brand new Maggie’s Centre at Gartnavel. Maggie’s, for those who don’t know, is a caring organisation for ppl with cancer concerns. It is well funded and well loved with many ppl raising funds for it. It is an amazing building costing millions but offering hope for all those who pass through the doors with whatever their cancerly problem is.

Earlier this year I spent some time at a drop-in centre for alcoholics and other ppl with dependency problems. In Bridgeton. It was half a church hall with indoor bowling, table tennis table and pool table; a couple of old computers and a cup of tea. It’s open seven days a week. I’m going to need discipline for the Domination degree. It’s meant to be academic and not about my prejudices. 

But I mentioned it to a nurse and she was minded of a time when she did her training at Yorkhill Sick Kids where children did not want for toys and then had to spend some time at the ‘lunatic asylum’ that was the then Lennox Castle Hospital (now Celtic’s training ground) which played host to the mentally insane and their families but without toys…….the haves and have-nots are not restricted to the bankers and their Tory friends.

Thanks to Ewen for suggesting this closing music. Maybe some of it’s a message………..I am that kinda hellraiser.

It’s always something, there’s always something going wrong That’s the only guarantee, that’s what this is all about It’s a never ending attack, everything’s a lie and that’s a fact. Life is a lemon and I want my money back. (Meatloaf)

June 23, 2012

And so to the question that has been concerning many since the last show – why did Son Brian come to my house for tea when it was Dad’s Day. Simple. I asked him. And he came bearing gifts. Two real shirts. To go with the suits I had liberated from the three bags going to the charity shops all those weeks ago. 🙂

But it did lead to an interesting mix’n’match. Y’see, voyages of discovery with Study Buddie Fi are not restricted to Northern Ayrshire supermarkets (strangely omitted from the Herald of Glasgow’s Guide to Tourist Attractions of Ayrshire).  We went to charity shops. She bought designer gear for knock down prices. I bought CDs. But I wanted new denims and I am studently. Again. And much as I like Men at Debenhams (it’s a shop; not a lifestyle choice) I can’t afford it. 😦

So walking past one of Byres Road’s many charity shops, I spotted a pair of ripped, bleachly denims on a dummy in the window. So I went in and asked the woman what size they were. She said, ‘are there none like them on the rails?’ I said ‘No’. She said ‘I’ll have a look’ and proceeded to have a wrestling match with the dummy to pull his trousers off. It reminded me strangely of a video I once watched whilst doing some Criminal Justice System Referencing a wee while back. 😉

She succeeded. And I said jokingly, ‘Good job, you didn’t do that in the window.’ ‘It’s okay, son, dummies don’t do it for me.’ The waist size was fine (30” – I’ve stopped living off chocolate and crisps altho’ tuna on toast remains a favourite) but they were three inches too long. ‘Look son they’re frayed enuff as it is. Just take scissors to them.’ So I have done. And damn fine they look.

But I know dummies. I did naloxone training with some centre users when I was on placement and apparently I hit the dummy’s chest so hard during CPR, that they reckoned I’d killed it. But, hey, I carry a naloxone kit in the car.

Oh, and btw, school pal, Sharon, the Grand Council has appointed you to a very important sub-committee – in fact you are that sub-committee.

But I have started doing my reading for my Domination Degree (what’s that Skippy?…It’s not that kind of Master.)….oh…..anyway one of the books says ‘few experiences match the sense of achievement and exhilaration that result from finishing your thesis.’ Mmm, leaving aside any recent Phwoar moments, I was there, at New Kilbowie, the night Clydebank Youth team beat Celtic Youths one-nil in the first round of the BP Youth Cup. Years ago. I may have been happily married at the time. The thesis has a long way to go to beat that one. 😀

Yes, the same Clydebank (nickname the Bankies) which has asked UN Chief Ban Ki-moon to help them find a new ground but for the life of me I can’t understand what the connection might be. The same Clydebank that was taken over by the liquidated Airdrieonians, who renamed themselves Airdrie United (Death to the Diamonds)and moved the club back to Airdrie and wiped out Clydebank’s illustrious history. And the last time I said Death to the Diamonds this blog was linked to an Airdrie dogging site – complete with ppl wearing gimp masks.

The same book suggested avoiding the shallowness of quick and ‘dirty’ research. Sharon, can we put that on the agenda for the first meeting. I’m quite happy with quick and ‘dirty’ research. And this town, you mis-spell……..did you ever have a fancy for super hero, Green Lantern? Moving swiftly on.

And a big day looms for the Vampire Slayer and Missie K, but I have postponed mine.

Anyway mention of the school reminds me…one of the things I became aware of when studying drink’n’drugs there was just how heavy and regular a drinker I’d been post-separation/divorce at the Beeb when I worked there – a view echoed by Ken Bruce, with whom I worked, who was quoted this week as describing the Beeb and its ‘old drinking culture when most of the staff were three-quarters pissed most of the time’. Still made good programmes tho’.

Anyway mention of the school reminds me…I got annoyed at one of the male librarians who said, ‘We’ve got a book for you, Mr t850……oh, no, it’s a different t850’. Listen pal there is only one t850. The nice lady librarians don’t make that mistake.

And finally, a lot of those ppl who slagged Jimmy Carr off are those who pay their tax on a PAYE basis (eg the Prime Minister) and just get a standard deduction. Self-employed ppl like me and Jimmy make certain decisions about our tax affairs and do what suits us best – within the rules. I mean I don’t pay tax either. Mind you, I don’t earn enuff to pay tax.   

Cya keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? Yes. It’s tax-deductible.

Johnt850…the one and only. I don’t do stereotypes. No. I don’t.

So it’s time, this week, for my latest six-monthly cancer conversation with Nurse ED and the latest specific blood test I do for that has come in at 0.9, which is good.

But it’s a week in which the latest theory for the cause of prostate cancer was unveiled as drinking seven or more cups of tea and the BBC’s very fragrant Eleanor Bradford (a smashing footballer) talked ‘bout the fact that this cancer becomes more common for men in their seventies. My alter-ego was 52/3 when it was discovered, FFS! That’s why I refuse to be defined by age because it is just a number and I wish others saw that as well. Particularly when it concerns me and ppl important to me.

And the only reason that I can think of for why the cancer took effect in me was lifestyle – I didn’t do seven cups of tea. I did seven pints, seven whiskies and, well…… anyway, Brian Hibbard, lead singer of the Flying Pickets, died this week at the age of 63.

Watch this space for news about the Prostate Cancer Charity…and to all those women citing fruits on their Facebook site, make sure your menfolk are just as aware. Brian also appeared in Corrie and was one of Deirdre’s many livers. I watch it in a parallel universe. I know what I’m talking about. Enjoy. You will recognise it as soon as it starts.

If your heart is restless and you can’t go on, When you’re tired and weary but you can’t go on, Well a distant dream is a callin’ you, Then there’s just one thing that you can do. Yeah you gotta follow that dream wherever that dream may lead you…..wherever that dream may lead. (Springsteen)

June 16, 2012

So it’s with a range of emotions that I sit down at the typewriter and review this week’s latest life changing events, not all of which will be relayed to you, dear listener. But first can I welcome to the World, Kiernan Jack Euan (No. No surname…you know the rules), son of Ellie and Euan, grandson of Grandad  (hahahahahaha) Colin and one of my academic guiding lights, Marjon, and related to lots of millions of brill ppl. 😀

Can I also, in that vein, say thanks to Son Brian who celebrated Dad’s Day by phoning me to say he was too busy to take me out but he was taking some shirts to the charity shop and did I want first dibs? 🙂

Big thanks are also due to ppl who contacted me following last week’s blog worried by my craving for alcohol. It’s part of my confidence in my sobriety that I can use the blog to tell ppl that these things happen and I don’t keep them to myself. For years, the thought that alcoholism was a disease was the only explanation in town and that there was only one way of dealing with it. It’s only recently recent that such obvious things as friends and family (and support team) are being highlighted as a way of helping ppl.  The best treatment is the one that works for you.

 Ask Pavlova’s dogs. I talk to them a lot (as well as Skippy)

But big thanks to Sunny D, down the ASDA who saw me looking lovingly at the whisky aisle (I was thinking about the government’s pricing policy, honest) and said, in a loud voice so that everyone heard, ‘Don’t even think it, jt!’ (The practising paranoid alkie buys his/her booze from different shops so that no-one suspects, but, hey, I ain’t practising no more. I’ve stopped) 🙂

And it’s by putting things in print and on F/book and telling the world, that I can stick to things……which is why I have already announced to some parts of the world, my latest news. (Fanfare of strumpets, please Skippy). And I apologise if this is the first time you’ve heard but I use a range of outlets for news (Keep the strumpets going, Skippy). Actually I know there are ppl out there who wonder about Facebook and its use but when I posted this piece of info, I got some comments and some kisses, including one from the blogmeister. I got 27 likes. That’s 27 people who know by that means alone and because I’ve shared that with ppl who have given me the thumbs up, that’s 27 reasons why I’ve got to do it. It’s like not long after Cold Turkey Sunday (altho’ it was the whole weekend) that I told Son Brian, et al, that I wouldn’t drink again. And I haven’t. And I ain’t tempting fate by saying that.

(How are the strumpets doing Skippy? What? What do you mean they’re burned? Jeeeeeez! No. I said strumpets, not crumpets!) 😦

So, awaiting world, my news? And thanks also to Study Buddie Fi, Son Brian and Grandad (hahahahaha) Colin and the rainforestriverman (Queen pass you over again, then?) et al for sharing my enthusiasm but not on F/book…….

Actually I’ve always thought of myself as downwardly mobile over the last twenty years but I now realise I’m still middle classly downwardly mobile. I waved at my gardener this morning as he enjoyed a coffee in Little Italy in Byres Road.

Having said which, let’s have a totally over-the-top Fanfare for The Common Man.

Anybody else remember Tarkus?…….compare and contrast with the simplicity of Punk, and, yes, Grandad Colin (hahahahahaha) I was into it….but quietly.

I’m going to do a Master’s at UWS (Paisley)….There! I’ve named the school I’ve been at for the last eight (?) months…..and I haven’t a frisking clue what is involved.

It’s roughly (I need to devise a question) about compare and contrast stigmas relating to alcoholism and mental health and who should be speaking out/encouraging people to speak. It’s one of those tales that never make the blog – other than when and others think back. I should have spoken then. What’s the smiley icon for gulp?

So, and finally, I was saying to Son Brian’s mum (her face looked familiar but I placed it. She’s my accountant) that all those years ago who’d have expected, when I woke up in Gartnavel Ward 8A having passed out in the Western, that I’d be doing a master’s in drink’n’drugs. ‘jt,’ she said, ‘we weren’t sure if you were going to wake up.’

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? Yup but it’s a tad confused at the moment.

Johnt850, who may not be sure what he’s doing but knows why he’s doing it.

And in a week when two MPs talked about their fight with depression and other mental illness issues, which they won, the Daily Record spoke to a top football player. It’s not what the Master’s is about but it is kinda behind it. You are not alone. Nor you.  Nor you…….. Read this and realise it.

Keep your head up: you are so much better than you believe. I promise.

June 10, 2012

And, yes, that is a promise. Not necessarily an easy one to keep, but certainly a worthwhile target. And I will do everything I can……………

And with absolutely no connection – seriously – I owe some people an apology. I got it all wrong over the Olympic Torch. I was awfy disparaging. The week’s voyage of discovery with Study Buddie Fi should have seen me on the front lawn of her palatial manor down North Ayrshire way but us inhabitants of Summerston weren’t allowed out of the scheme in case we interfered with them dusting the Maryhill Road. So me and the chocolate, and the red, white and blue umbrella I’d borrowed for the occasion had to stay at home and watch it on the BBC Interweb TV News Channel.

It was brilliant! And different from being there. But in a good way.

I switched on early, which was good cos they were early. I know those buildings! That’s the top of her street. That’s the swing park. That’s the primary school where I had to park when they were tarmacadaming (sp) the street. And, yes, that’s the row of manor houses and, no, I can’t see them but they’re there. And who the hell cares who is carrying the frisking thing? Well actually it is important but at this stage I am shouting to no-one in particular what I’m watching. It was smashing and over in seconds and my photos were crap cos of the flash off the flame but who cares?

And it was kinda the same on Saturday when I watched Byres Road, Queen Margaret Drive and the Maryhill Road (and, no, I don’t know why I use the prefix ‘the’ at that point)……no commentary but streets you do not see on TV normally, or at least from a PoV that you don’t  normally get (I’m not a great fan of PoV on the small screen but that’s more for the post watershed version of this blog)………not Buck Pal, or the top of Snowdon or Loch Lomond or some frisking tourist spot, but your own backyard or front garden or at the bottom of the street. So I said as much on Facebook and a BBC reporter (Willie Johnston) whom I’ve known for years sent me a msg (publicly) as follows;

The way places like Beith and Kilmaurs and Barrmill and all the other smaller communities the torch passed through today will live them forever. The response from all of them was unbelievable. It was a privilege being on the media vehicle to witness it all. Well done, everyone.

Willie came up through the ranks of local newspaper reporting before joining the Beeb but stayed loyal to Dumfries and Galloway.  I always smiled when my recent teachers talked about the rigorous demands of peer reviewed papers. Balls! I worked for the BBC in the Borders for a while when they had a local radio station output there and listeners like David Steel, his wife Judy and Bill Mclaren, as well as ‘ordinary’ people, often popped in to let you know what they thought or suggest a ‘line’ you should be following….It’s ten times harder if you’re a journo in local newspapers where the editor is a mason, a member of the rotary club and plays golf down the road. No, I think the torch showed the worth of local communities. It’s a shame the TV coverage didn’t reflect that.

(Wow! 500 words on the goodness of the torch. Not something I thought I’d write and not much room for anything else….except something I’ve wanted to share for some time…….)

So, finally, and bear with me on this – I had planned to write about how Fi and I had resisted a certain temptation on the steps of the Concert Hall, how Missie K and I had been too polite to have the last deep fried potato skin on the plate in front of us in Buzzy’s, how e and I had laffed when AJ turned his tomato upside down and spilled the contents all over himself, what a good job Kenny the shed pimp had made of the garden, and how the rainforestriverman thinks he had the best seats at the Royal Concert, but Pippa Middleton’s bum is soooooo over-rated ………but all these people took on a new significance this week.

As most listeners know I am a recovered alcoholic of over five years and am usually confident in my sobriety but it’s been hard these last few weeks. I think it’s the deflation after the intensity of university – the placement and the assignment writing. I feel deflated and jobsearch has to start. CVs and letters have gone out; job ads are scoured and reading about the subject matter is continued. But uncertainty has kicked in.

And the days and nights are long. Alcohol would help me get through them but the beauty of writing this blog is that I think back to what I’ve done and achieved this week, as have many others. The people I’ve named are important to me. And so is my time with them. And soooooo many others. Thanks.  

Cya, keep(ing it fun) and still wearing that badge? Dazzled by the flame, it was

Johnt850, quietly counting blessings

So I’ve done the serious bit, so all that is left to do is this week’s vid. It’s The Cranberries. No. No reason.

I want to be your electric heater. I will not run out. I wanna be the electric heater you’ll get cold without. I wanna be your setting lotion hold your hair in deep devotion. Deep as the deep Atlantic Ocean. That’s how deep is my devotion

June 2, 2012

John Cooper Clarke there. Part of BBC4’s punk season. And to get the full effect you have to read it at the rate of a train going past. Fast. How can one man – so thin – have so much talent? But that’s enuff about me. John Cooper Clarke’s pretty good as well. 😀

And I think there’s a wee anarchist sitting in BBC scheduling who, realising that this is a big weekend for Liz Saxe-Coburg, gave us all an opportunity to play God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols. But I realise that I am sectarian. This week’s episode of Every Week a Voyage of Discovery with Study Buddie Fi took us to Stevenson in North Ayrshire. No. No reason.

Me and Study Buddie Fi stood outside this large building with lots of Union Flag bunting and I muttered ‘unionist’ ‘masonic’ ‘lodge’ ‘orange’ and similar epaulettes under my breath only for her to point out it was an Old Folks’ Home celebrating the Jubilee. Oooooops. 😦

And at one point Fi asked for directions to the seafront. Which was weird cos we weren’t going there. And this elderly lady gave us directions. And we set off in that direction. Which was weird cos we weren’t going there. And she followed us to see we were okay……….she then stopped to talk to someone and we ran. Left and left again. Phew! We outran the old lady.

(Olympic Torch Beith Friday 1339 to 1347. No. I do not know who the bearers will be. But last weekend’s tarmacadaming is now explained)

Wonder how Prince Philip’s folks are coping with the Euro crisis. The Greeks must really hate the Germans. Hope it doesn’t affect life in the Windsor household. If the Queen Mum had ever paid off her overdraft, all this could have been avoided, y’know.

And whilst we’re talking house improvements (eh?), I’d like to thank Kenny the Shed Pimp for starting all the work at my house. Eh, you will be back, won’t you? The curtains look nice. 🙂

And I cleared up the problem with the School Library. I knew I didn’t have the Journal of Mental Health vol 7, 1998. I went in and went straight to the shelf and there it was. Stuck between vols 6 and 8. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Oh, how I laffed. At the £1.20 I had to pay for car-parking!

And finally, about three years ago, the annual Blog Personality of the Year Award went to a phone call from two very beautiful women who happened to be in Italy. This week the same two women phoned me again – separately – to tell me that they had received Queen’s Jubilee Honours (Caledonian University Media and Communications Division) which I think is positively brilliant. People sometimes think that Missie K and the Vampire Slayer are figments of my imagination but they well and truly exist and have been part of the support team for all the years one has been needed.  And were there really only 65 condoms in that jar, Skippy wants to know?

Cya (keep)ing it fun and still wearing that badge? And it’s got an exceptionally large smile on its face.

Johnt850, currently watching re-runs of Supernanny. No. No reason.

So I’ve recently been telling folk that there is nothing wrong in taking pride in an achievement. It is arrogance or hubris that is wrong. So I am about to tread a fine line. I got (unratified) 75% for my Applied Theatrical Revue and I am knocked out. I knew I’d written something okay cos I wasn’t the sort of pupil to hand in an essay and say to my pals, ‘It’s rubbish.’ It’s the freelance in me. You do not talk down what you’ve done.

But I’d wandered; I thought I’d really frisked it up. Academically, it was journalism.

So genuine and utter surprise at the result. Most of my other marks have been good (hubris alert at amber!) apart from Drawing up a Questionnaire Studies which wasn’t very good (arrogance alert back to green). But journalistically I was happy and had taken it to the wire…….it was worth it.

The subject? It was a look at the horrendous stigma still attached to an alcoholic when he/she feels good and ready to return to work – and the parallels with those who are succeeding in reducing similar stigma for people with mental health problems. I must get some copies bound and give one to my former line manager at what is now the City of Glasgow College, but, hey, I sound bitter. No. I have my hair. He is a bald hypocrite. He also liked the Ramones – a punk band your mammy would have chosen for you, they were that safe.  

And this was featured in another prog about Punk. They, the experts, say it was the guitar riff that made it but for me it’s the drums, the drums, the frisking drums at the start……oh, and the vocal key changes but that’s a bit arty!