Archive for August, 2012

I’ll hammer the nails, I’ll set the stone. I’ll harvest your crops when they’re ripe and grown. I’ll pull that engine apart and patch her up ’til she’s running right (moi?…jt) I’m a jack of all trades. We’ll be all right.

August 31, 2012

So, dear listener, this is the 251st edition of the this blog and I have had, I think, the third or fourth car crash I have been involved in since the show started but I think this is the first time I’ve been in the boy racer Clio when it happened.

I’d come up northwards thru the Clyde Tunnel and I was past the roadworks and past the bit where if you want to go to town you actually turn left and follow the signs and the traffic lights. Well most people do.  And I was going thru the green lights towards the Switchback going thru Anniesland Cross as was, I thought, the car on the inside…….only it decided to turn right. Across my path.

I tried to avoid but made contact with my passenger door side smashed against them.  If I’d kept going……? 😦

Two people in the car – both women – but neither in my demographic and one of them gets out (not the driver) and says something about her mum and I let loose that blood curdling cry handed down thru generations of Scots – much more frightening than anything in Brave or Braveheart.


And then the police arrived and took over and as I write this I am advised that they have accepted full responsibility. Not the police. The other folk. But it got me thinking and that’s this week’s serious bit. Below the line.

So moving swiftly on. As (former) broadcast journalists do. 😀

Actually I’d been to university and I now have enrolled but it was interesting cos I’d met a woman in a car park in Bearsden who recognised me from the Hogmanay party I go to and I was asked what I was doing these days and I explained that I was doing a domination degree in drink’n’drugs and she asked what my interest was and I explained I was an alcoholic and she said, ‘how are you enjoying being a student?’ No stigma. No discrimination.

And someone else asked me why I still call myself an alcoholic and I replied cos I still am one but not in that way that I will always use it as an excuse or reason for my behaviour (‘I’m sorry m’lud. It wasn’t my client’s fault. It was the drink’). I believe in free will and taking responsibility. I remind myself that I am an alcoholic cos it reminds me and other ppl to make sure I never have that first drink…….

Sorry this is getting a bit heavy. It’s the car crash thang. So to make up for it, I won’t talk about sugar this week.  Apart from mentioning the report that says that sports drinks have up to five times more sugar than donuts but I always take these things with a pinch of salt. 😉

Can I instead recommend the seafood lasagne at the Duck Bay Marina? If you cut it up it becomes a pasta dish with lots of seafood. And did the Duck Bay once upon a many years ago play host to Radio Clyde discos and did I once…? Anyway that’s too many questions in one go. Ignore that last one for the time being.

Good luck to Helena and Nick who are on their way to the Lisdoonvarma Match Making Festival to make a TV doc.  You have my shopping list.

And can I say an incredibly Well Done to young AJ for his mastery of being a statue in the Botanic Gardens the other day, altho’ that might have been a devise to tease e, but Well Spotted on seeing all those dinosaurs chasing us on the way back to the car.

I wonder how the donkey stones are. 😀

And finally, so I emptied the boot. There is a birthday pressie for the Good Dr W, who is currently fast and furious in the streets of Glasgow, an unused kite, Son Brian’s Sat Nav (with helluva quiet voice) and a blanket. For the ground. And, boy do I have some weird stuff in the glove compartment!

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? I am more of one than Van Diesel ever will be. Sorry. Vin.

Johnt850, and then there was the County Inn, Cambuslang as well.

No. I was thinking ‘bout the car the morning after. At 4 in the morning, the morning after. Usually I have a different thought at that time of day. And send a message to someone. No. Not to……well, anyway…..

Y’see there was a time ‘bout six and more years ago when if I’d been awake at 4 in the morning I’d have gone and poured myself a glass of whisky, drunk it and gone back to sleep. And then three or so hours later driven to the railway station and gone to work. I, and others, were very lucky.

So before I’d got the call that said they’d be taking full responsibility, I’d made my mind up. Despite my belief in my free will, there are some things (and some ppl) I can’t control. I have got to be patient. If the other folk had not accepted full responsibility then I had decided that I would not contest it.  Some things have to be between someone’s God and their own conscience no matter how much they affect me.    

Wow! Heaveeeeeee!

And here is this is this year’s Icelandic band of the month – this week…….Of Monsters and Men. And it’s not heaveeeeee.

we dictate our doxologies and try to get sleeping kids to sit up and listen. i’m not saying we could save you, but we could put you in a place where you could save yourself. if you don’t get born again at least you’ll get high as hell (the hold steady)

August 25, 2012

So I got an e-mail thru the post (eh?) telling me I’ve to enrol for the new school term on lime. So I went to the ASDA, bought half a dozen and came home and read it again. On line, it said. Ah, I well remember taking Son Brian to primary  school. It seems like yesterday. Actually it was. He’s 25. It was very embarrassing. I’m on different coloured pills these days……but it’s no excuse. 😀 

No, my wee idea has been accepted and I’ll say a wee bit more about it below the line but the next step is to take it to some committee in Essex. I know. I don’t understand it, either. What’s that Skippy? An Ethics committee? Oh, that makes a big difference. Suppose that means I can’t access other ppls’ voice mails? 😦

Anyway it’s been a week when editing business dissertations for Chinese students has taken over my life, even with a lovely outsourcer to outsource to. But it pays. It pays enough to buy this month’s Men’s Fitness (Normally I get Men’s Health. I get it for the crossword on Page 3 and advice on my six pack. Still don’t understand why it takes readers three weeks to get a good six pack. The ASDA used to do me nicely).

Anyway, a former student of mine, Thomas Alexander – well actually I used to share him with the other tutors – has written two excellent pieces on Jean-Claude van Damme and Ray Winston. Well worth reading but what’s this I see on Page 52, immediately after the JCVD interview, an article about the dangers of sugar (see last week on cupcakes)…..’The sugar industry has learned the lessons of tobacco. Confuse the public; produce experts who disagree. Try to dilute the message.’

Anyway nice one Thomas. And regards to Joanne. I used to have another student called Alexander. Whatever……?

Anyway the rainforestriverman was up for a while and there’s something about him that forces me to live up to my stereotype. He stays in posh hotels; I steal the toiletries. One day I’m going for the fluffy towel; and the robe; but I prefer barefeet – I don’t want the slippers. The conditioner was good btw. 🙂

But my big mistake was eating chips from the kebab shop in Dundas Street whilst waiting for my train home. Heartburn at 4.30 in the morning, which is better than, genuinely, hearing a voice calling out ‘John…what did Sharon actually say?’ and sending her a msg at 5 in the morning. Which I done the previous day. I did get a reply………..Skippy. I may be about to go undercover. May I borrow your name?

Sex in a multi-storey car park. So enjoyable on so many levels. (I’ll be back in a minute. Talk amongst yourselves.)

And I don’t normally have a picture of the week caption (Vampire Slayer – I lost that one with screws, lubricants and chains – and have a nice holiday. I bid three camels) but this week goes to one that appeared in the Metro of a CCTV photo of a man who is suspected of stealing a 15-year-old toilet, water pipe and cistern ball cock from a pub. In fact, literally everything apart from the kitchen sink. But how? Down his trousers? In a rucksack?

And Partick Thistle, Glasgow’s oldest professional football team sit on top of the World with a 100 per cent record. ‘I came to be disappointed and wasn’t’……it’s a review for a play, commissioned and writtenby a mate, but not yet performed, but it seems so appropriate. It was good.  🙂 I should maybe start putting up the highlights packages…..mmmmmm……

And finally, my thanks to all those who genuinely contacted me after last week’s show about cupcakes and sugar – the invidious white powder that threatens the world – and told me about cupcake substitutes. And to those who recommended a book called ‘The Apple Revolution’ by Luke Dormehl, which suggest that much of the early thinking within Apple was acid-related with Steve Jobs saying that taking LSD was one of the most important things he’d ever done. No. No point.

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? Yes. It’s become a metaphor for my normality.

Johnt850, demanding and arrogant and so well hung……..up on someone or other.

So at some point I will say something about my big essay but a lot of it will be about people being aware of where people might find help with alcoholism from a whole range of services. But part of it will look at people standing up as advocates and saying, ‘If I can do it, then so can you.’ And I’ve had an amazing invitation that I’ll talk about on another occasion.

Tom Urie, a lovely man and musician, who plays Big Bob in River City, has been open about coping with alcoholism and nicotine addiction and is now taking on his biggest battle – losing weight and, No, he doesn’t give the credit to a self-help group for helping him to lose 18lbs…….he gives credit to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) which is used in addiction treatment. By using it he can identify the triggers that make him eat and find an alternative – he plays vinyl and by the time he’s actually taken the record out of the sleeve and put the needle on, the craving has gone……

‘A lot of it is psychological, comparable with alcoholic behaviour.’ (Urie 2012)

So I think I’m now beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s Half Man Half Biscuit. My life summed up in a catchy refrain.

Well I’m gonna raise a fuss, I’m gonna raise a hollar, I’ve been working all summer just to try and raise a dollar. Sometimes I wonder what I’m gonna do cos there ain’t no cure for the Summertime Blues (the song I used to sing at Karaoke….I am told)

August 18, 2012

And so, dear listener, I was invited to Son Brian’s house for tea. Not for the first time but I wanted to make this somewhat different. I planned to take beer. For him. But this caused me a wee problem. Should I buy it from the ASDA and run the risk of being seen and counselled…’put that back jt!’ or go to one of the offsales down the Maryhill Road and buy from there – except there aren’t as many as I remember. And then I thought this is stupid. Sometimes we addicts agonise over the simplest of things and ignore the simplest of solutions (being true to yourself and your own free will) and I bought four bottles of San Miguel a couple of days in advance. And then when my sister came over to drop some keys off I hid the beer. Serioulsy. I did. (red-faced icon)

I also got an Angel Card from Opal Moon, which said believe in your heart – so I will. 🙂

No. I’ve been reading a book. Actually I’ve been reading two and I’d like to thank the Good Dr W for a birthday pressie book in which the hero is a man with cancer, enjoys dancing to trance, drugs and has a fetish for giving young women peculiar nicknames. But, I wondered, why did it remind you of me? So I asked the Vampire Slayer.

No. The book I’ve been reading is called The Fix and is written by a man called Damien Thompson (no relation but why should there be?). It’s about the usual forms of addiction; drink, drugs and Vicodin – America’s biggest painkiller – and my favourite quote comes from a woman addicted to codeine (I won’t have that or paracetemol in the house after an unfortunate incident with six Lem-sips in six hours once):

‘I find it hard to tell when the pain relief ends and you’re simply enjoying the medicine. Let’s just say that, while it doesn’t get you very high, it makes the furniture really comfortable.’ 😀

Damien is an alcoholic. So am I. He now collects classical CDs and keeps them in their wrappers. I buy an eclectic range and they’re second hand. He is the Religious Corr of the Daily Telegraph. I started with the BBC in Religious Broadcasting. I once got drunk at a sherry reception with a man who went on to become the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; got drunk with a priest in his Partick bolthole being served Gins and It by his eighteen year old housekeeper; and used to present pre-recorded church services for Radio Scotland and come home from them red-faced and giggling after the post-service lunch. 😀

I once spent a very pleasant evening in a café in Largs with a very lovely woman discussing drunken escapades with sailors and fishermen. Maybe next time we can do men of the cloth.

Anyway to this book and its prediction of the next addictive apocalypse…which is with us now. Cupcakes!!!!! Seriously. Altho’ I wasn’t sure about this, until the next day I went into Prostate Cancer UK HQ to say well done on getting the Scottish Government to see sense about abireterone. And how were they celebrating? With cupcakes.

The next day I was in Paisley and went to buy something from Gregg’s. When I went to pay for it I was assaulted by the sugar on the counter. A massif bag of dough-rings for one pound or four cupcakes for one pound or a tub of millionaire shortcake for one pound.

And the day after that there was an article in a tabloid newspaper about the fact that you can now add Malibu and Bacardi to cupcakes and come up with caketails. (I once found a recipe in a veggie cookbook for vodka gazpacho. It really was ‘add vodka to cold tomato soup’). The only time I have been alcoholically giddy in the last few years was a commercially available tiramisu…….. Now I’m not shouting about banning sugar (an insidious white powder whose very existence is threatening mankind even as we speak) but I think we should be careful. A little recreational use is okay but dependency is worrying.

(Yes. I am going through a phase of still wanting alcohol but my basic coping mechanisms are back and I feel fine…….I’m just careful, for example, in the music I play from my eclectic collection and that’s why tonight’s choice was chosen for its name. Feel Good Hit for the Summer. Sounds wholesome.)

And finally, over recent years, I have confessed much to people like Study Buddie Fi, the Good Doctor W, Missie K and the Vampire Slayer that I’ve not told anyone else (and I still don’t understand the comment about young women and nicknames) but on Thursday I bumped into the serene e and wee AJ…..and made the ultimate confession. I’m not sure at what stage my relationship was with the woman who became Son Brian’s mum (he says, making the ‘art’ of conception sound more difficult than it actually is) but at one stage…….I collected Hollie Hobby badges. (Try saying that in the kinda deep voice I normally save for telling dogs what to do).

I don’t know why. Was it the anticipation? The wanting? The thrill of finding one I didn’t have? Going up to the counter behind five year old girls and presenting mine for purchase?  (maybe edit that later, Skippy?) Did I wear them? No way!!!!! It was a secret pleasure shared only with one or two others. 😀

‘People who worship green jelly fish need to surround themselves with the right kind of fellow believers if they’re to have a reasonable chance of keeping the faith.’ (Thompson 2012)

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? I wouldn’t trade it for a dozen Hollie Hobbys!

Johnt850, who’s just remembered something else that made him red-faced and giggling. 😀

So it’s basically housekeeping below the line this week.

Son Brian made pasta with prawns and salmon in a carbonara sauce without coriander; sorry I missed the party, Doctor W, but you will understand; my working tax credits have been sorted for 2013/14 so I’ll get the beers on Thursday, rainforestriverman; Mike Scott of the Waterboys is on at Oran Mor in a few days time; see you Tuesday, Sharon, and anyone else I’ve spoken to recently about getting in touch, please do so. Such is me and my life, it’s always your call.

This is Queens of the Stone Age and their Feel Good Hit of the Summer… Keeping It Simple And Safe 🙂

Are you scared this sounds familar? What if everybody knew the very trials and temptations that we put ourselves through? Now I am no angel but I’ve got nothing to hide (from the new Gaslight Anthem album)

August 10, 2012

So this man walks into a bar and orders a large whisky and a small drop of water. Knocks it back in a oner and orders the same again. And again. And again. And again. And……..But he’s talking coherently and seems quite sober. So eventually the barman comes up to him and says,’ I hope you don’t mind me asking you…… but what’s with the water cos you seem okay on the whisky itself?’

‘Well’, says the man, ‘I’ve got prostate cancer. I can hold my whisky. I just can’t hold my water.’

And that, dear listener, is the only prostate gag I know. I was going to use it on Wednesday at a Volunteering Networking event with the freshly re-branded Prostate Cancer UK. I didn’t.  I was doing some stuff about speaking to the media and it didn’t seem appropriate. Instead I was talking about the campaign to try and get Scotland in line with the rest of the UK and allow dying men to access abireterone to get some quality in the last few days of their lives. By the time you read this (13th) we may know more.

I’m not sure what talents God or a similar power gave me but the ability to talk is one of them. And, yes, I enjoy seeing myself on TV/the newspapers/hearing myself on radio and it does satisfy my ego BUT if we get a result on Monday, then that will be one of the most amazing things I will ever have been involved in. In a small way. And don’t kid me that Mother Theresa didn’t enjoy the limelight. If it draws attention to a good deed that others will repeat or learn from?  And Princess Diana….what? Too soon?

But it was interesting cos that night River City – the greatest soap in the history of forever –at the moment – featured a massive (but old brand) poster for the Prostate Cancer Charity prominently on the wall in the Health Centre. Massif.

My interest lies with Leyla (sp) whose descent into alcohol oblivion has been halted for the present but there are some incredibly good storylines. And I saw the actor who plays the gay hairdresser at Mugdock Country Park the other day. I was there with AJ (and his mum e). We were test-driving the new playpark stuff there. And throwing stones into the water. As young male friends of mine are wont to do. 😀

Anyway, back at the Cancer thang I met one of the new ppl in charge of training. Now what was her name again, Skippy?

Yup…something like that. She promised ‘role-playing but not in the traditional sense’ 😉 ……suddenly I’m back with that fourball in Fife, Sharon. I’ll keep you posted dear listener.

So big thanks to all those who asked after my constipation and knowing I’m a big fan of Charles Bukowski suggested his method but I decided that it was anatomically impossible and can I reassure that fan of the blog I met in B&Q that the sink and plughole unblocker really was for the sink and plughole and not me; to the Good Doctor W, have a Happy Birthday and a really wild yet camp weekend; to the Vampire Slayer – an interesting way of chasing the dragon; to Study buddie Fi – that’s a couple of good results we’ve had there (money without menaces); and to the man at the Cancer event who, on finding out we were hours apart in speaking said, ‘at least we don’t clash.’ No, but our shirts were very similar.

And finally, my list of Olympic heroes……..the female track cyclist who admitted that taking recreational drugs helped (kinda), the man on the horse who reckoned his gold medal would increase his pulling power, the Rwanadan team who travelled by bus and the biggest star of them all……Sarah Attar, the woman from Saudi Arabia who ran in the 800 metres heats and came last but did soooo much more for women than Seb Coe’s patronisation of women on Friday.

Cya,keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? But not always in the places I’d like to.

Johnt850, dependable but in a bizarre golden haze with pot-pourri dropped over him.

So I’ve been sober now for five years and nine months this weekend – someone asked – and I was asked for an example of how I cope – coping with my alcoholism as learned behaviour disorder (Heather and Robertson 3rd ed 1997).

Basically, my train home on Wednesday was cancelled. Five years and ten months ago I’d have bought an evening newspaper and gone for a pint. Now I go for a walk except this time there’s a massif beer tent in George Square cos of the pipe band championship so I keep walking. Down past a pub where I used to go to after teaching at the College and I keep walking. And then it’s up past the charity shops in Royal Exchange Square and there’s a nice memory and I slow down. And then it’s the indie record shop in Dundas Street. And I go in. And then it’s time for the next train. And I’m happy.

Keep walking. It works for me. Not for everyone but then I never made it to tai chi lessons.

This is for AJ. Sorry bout the ad at the top. I wanted to play him the Times They Are A-changing cos for him they are about to – but there’s some kinda copyright problem. Enjoy. 😀  

‘I never miss a chance to have sex or appear on television’ (was this Johnt850 or Gore Vidal?)

August 3, 2012

So there I was. Standing in Maryhill Library with Missie K. She was working there. That day.  Hey, the school library hasn’t a monopoly on nice lady librarians. And my phone vibrated. Left trouser pocket. 😀 So I made an excuse and left. And listened to the message. ‘Elaine….piece to camera’ was all I could hear above the traffic on the strip. So I phoned back and said, ‘Yes. When, where and what am I talking about?’

It turned out to be at Prostate Cancer UK’s HQ and it was for STV – it was more about the Scottish Government’s disgraceful decision not to make abiraterone available to men dying of prostate cancer; men for whom all other treatments have failed; men like George Fraser who I met who has cashed in his pension to pay for his treatment. And I was going to go big on it just now.

And then I noticed that I/it was only used at lunchtime that day ( )  ‘cos three fathers had died in a car crash near Cumbernauld Village which could have been prevented by spending £20,000 on a barrier and I joined another Facebook group. It’s what you do these days isn’t it? Rather than actually campaign but that wasn’t Malcolm X’s style was it, nor Nelson nor Martin Luther……I’m going out for a walk. Calm down. Skippy, some music please.

That was jolly. The Waterboys. I could hear it out in the street. Amazing row there the other day. Can’t help but notice Martin is parking his car at the very front of his drive. Says it all.

Anyway I feel I have to mention the Olympics and the amazing opening ceremony and Danny Boyle’s memorial to that day in Dallas when JFK was gunned down……or did I mis-read the symbolism? And why was Evelyn Glennie dressed as Gandalf? And I loved the Mary Poppinses…Skippy, those mushrooms that night…where did you get them?

And can I ask you to please excuse the excesses of the broadcasters cos it’s awfy exciting to be at these things? My alter ego was a broadcaster at the Commonwealth Games in 1986 and it was great fun. Happy daze. No. I didn’t see anything other than on a monitor.

1986 rings a bell for some reason.

Oh, yes I did a freebie to Malta with the Maltese Tourist Board. And the Vampire Slayer’s just back from there and I have memories other than those I mentioned to you, VS…… I suffered one of the worst hangovers of my life coming back. It was a simple four days, courtesy of the Tourist Board and on the last night every other journalist had left except me, a guy from Today newspaper and the Tunisian Sloane Ranger who was our rep and we hit Valetta at 4 in the afternoon and, hang on a second, I want to Google something,….No. Club 19 doesn’t exist any longer. 😦

Got back to hotel ‘bout 2, which isn’t that late unless you’ve arranged to be knocked up at 5 for the car to take you to the airport. I was ill, as the man next to me recognised when I borrowed his brown bag as well. Made it to London and brushed my teeth with one of those teeth brushing things from the Gents (note to alcoholics and drinkers…brushing your teeth doesn’t sober you up. You just think it does). Made my way to next Terminal and caught my plane to Edinburgh. Which was good, cos that’s where my car happened to be parked. And then drove back to Glasgow. Smiling. 😀

Interesting year, 1986…..Son Brian was born then as well, I seem to remember. I was there. So was his mum. I think it was the first thing we did together as a family (a quote 26 years later from Study buddie Fi has just come to mind…. 🙂 )

My favest Olympian so far? Ruben Limardo, the fencer who won Venzuela’s second ever Gold Medal ever and travelled back to his B’n’B in London with his entire squad by tube. And I’d like to thank school pal, Cameron (obvs fee-paying school before Paisley Primary) for introducing me to women’s handball. That is tough and mean and ten times better than perving on women’s volleyball and you know who I’m talking to, rrm. Tell me, Cameron, when the men play this, do their balls end up as sticky as the women’s?

And finally, I was going to be frightfully ironic in a post-modernist kinda way and have fun at the expense of the ‘cheating British cyclists’ comparing them to the cheating badminton players, but then I heard Victoria (?) say that some times you just have a ‘rubbish day’. And I fell in love. Briefly.   

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? Not this week. Ruben’s the man…….

Johnt850, who keeps his promises – not because he has to but because he wants to…..and starts his tai-chi lessons on Monday.

So in connection with my Domination Degree I’ve been chatting to some folk about stigma and stuff and one of them asked me whether I was ever out of control through drink and, at one time, I’d have said just in that final alcoholic gap year. Now I know different.

Leaving aside the Maltese hangover, when I worked in PR in town, I would collect a very young Son Brian every two weeks on a Friday night – other weeks I’d go to the pub on a Friday after work. And drink. And food. And stuff. And sensibly I’d leave car in car park. And most Saturdays I’d wake up at home. With hangover……..and then think, ‘FFS, where’s the car?’ And somehow go back into town to get it and then get over to Son’s house to get him or messages or whatever. And look cool. And unperturbed. And what is frightening is I got away with things like that.

I felt in control of that specific situation, but just wish I’d had a better overall view at the time. Interesting the direction in which some conversations go, isn’t it? Not all research is academic – sometimes it’s a jolly interesting, sharing experience. Just a matter of yards from that very car park.   

You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. Joni Mitchell. Big Yellow Taxi. For lots of ppl this week.