Archive for December, 2012

Anything can happen in the next half-hour (Stingray)

December 28, 2012

And so to the biggest night of the year – the presentation of the Annual Blog Personality of the Year Awards. Skippy, please, get the strumpets warmed up. And in line. Actually we don’t  need their fanfare this year. But warm them up anyway.

But before I go any further….I’d my latest car incident a couple of days ago and again it was not my fault. It was dark and I drove into the ASDA car park entrance unaware that a car was coming out. Of the entrance. Luckily we were both going slowly. The other driver? She’s a nursery nurse, late twenties, early thirties with a bouncy personality. We exchanged numbers and textd the next day. So no damage done. And no I’m not going there, rainforestriverman, so don’t worry. Bishopbriggs. By the back road.

And a wee caveat before I explain why this year is a wee bit different.

The Awards are based on what happened over the last twelve months and should not be construed as hopes or expectations for the next twelve months.

I’m not one for making revolutions at this time of year; I am more of an ebb and flo man, myself.

So to the bad news. We have been hit by the double dip, fiscal cliff, austerity recession and the usual pomp’n’circumstance has had to go. No red carpet or Corinthian in the Merchant City; instead we will have to make do with the shag in my front room. It’s sand and not beige. Plus no canapés or sparkling champagne (not that I…..)  Instead refreshments have been provided by e. Lobster Cocktail flavoured crisps and non-alcoholic ginger beer…lashings of it. So loads of lashings on the shag. There’s a cold shower running even as we speak.

The first award is the Lifetime Achievement Award. Most of the previous winners have been living or dead members of my family plus the rrm (‘like a bro’’)…and curiously enuff, it’s a family who win this year’s award. Step forward e and c who, so far in the lifetimes of AJ and RJ, have done an amazing job….altho’ AJ is currently potty training and I was assured that the wet patch my besocked foot stood on was actually a ‘miss by a mile’ that had been wiped up.  And you can’t go wrong with a dinosaur for a three year old, I always say…….Jolly Well Done to you both.

And incidentally, the two questions I was asked most often this year were, ‘do you go to the meetings?’ and ‘did you ever work with Jimmy Savile?’

So the next award has been won by such in the past by the women who work in the ASDA on a Sunday and my Post Grad Possee (possible pronunciation pitfall) from last year, and it’s usually called the Team of the Year Award but this year it’s been renamed the Travelling Together as a Group Award. My answer to the question ‘where did you go on holiday this year, jt’, is ‘four days in Orkney and an hour in Millport’ so step forward Study Buddie Fi, Jay the Boy Wonder and Sasha the Wonder Dog. Ah, the supermarkets in North Ayrshire we visited – every week a voyage of discovery……but seriously well done and well deserved.

Oh, and I seem to have some chocolate Belgian cookies here…Skippy? And Jeff Z, I plan to open negotiations about appearing in panto next year soon……….

So to the biggie! The Personality of the Year Award

In Third  Equal Place, we have the New Goth Bar in Cowdenbeath on a Sunday afternoon which I can highly recommend to those of you who are collectors of dated electric heaters which were clearly against Health and Safety regs but worked (A PTFC afternoon); and the Tough Mudder Challenge (a Good Doctor w day out) which was the only run for charity I have ever been to that was so dangerous that even the spectators had to sign a waiver in case harm was done. That was the one where some guys ran it as Ruud Gullit lookalikes. W ran as w.

In joint Second Place two places miles apart but both meant an awfy lot to me in a spiritual way; the Ring o’ Brodgar Standing Stones in Orkney, and Paisley Town Hall on a Recovery Day. Both were calming and reassuring in their own way, as were a few other places I visited last year, and they have been a major influence as have other events in confirming that I am doing what I want to do. But there was a spirituality to both…..I’m beginning to understand what that means. I feel so calm these days. 🙂

(Incidentally the next person who, on being told all the things I am doing just now, says ‘well at least you’re keeping busy’ will get their teeth rammed up their nostrils. I am not ‘keeping busy’; I have ambitions just the same as my Son, who has achieved so much, and whose very cool fiancé is ten millions times better than Kevin Bacon on being connected to ppl…..Yes, I am not ‘keeping busy’. I have things I want to do and reasons for doing them. I have ambitions and no mortgage)

And so, let the truncated version of ELP’s Fanfare for the Common Man ring throughout my front room

And if you didn’t watch the final vid in last week’s show…of the ducks….you missed a quacker. Well worth sending on to your friends if you’re one of those ppl who like doing that.

And finally in Joint First Place we have the Graduations (or the Three Degrees if you prefer) ; Missie K and the Vampire Slayer earlier this year and uni-Sharon later. And both meant soooooo much to me. The former I have now known for about seven years, before the Cold Turkey, beginning as NQ students but who have become such amazing friends and the latter, who I have known for about a year and a half – but who is one of several women who know me like a book (Fifty Shades of Sand not Beige)…….in fact many of them got mentioned here today.

And all three, like so many ppl I know, have tremendous patience with me. Or maybe I just like women in robes 😉

But well done to all those who received awards and commiserations to all those who were close but just not quite close enuff.

Cya (keep)ing it fun and still wearing that badge? Yup. And planning to prove it this year. Maybe.

Johnt850, kinda caffeine-free……just not cold turkeying it…that’s all.

So what did l learn this year? Lots. But that will never stop me doing (the same) things again. Cos I have free will. I can make my own choices based on what’s available to me and I leave my mind open. I may not be able to choose the choices but the fact that I am alive, aged 42, living in two parallel universes and with an invisible bush kangaroo as my bestie shows how well I’ve been doing. But sometimes asking for direction can be dangerous. Here’s BBC Scotland’s very funny Limmy as Falconhoof.

Christmas (Old English: Crīstesmæsse, meaning “Christ’s Mass”) is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a widely observed holiday, celebrated generally on December 25 by millions of people around the world (wikipedia so it must be true)

December 21, 2012

And finally I am vindicated. The Daily Record (now sadly (eh?) without Jim Traynor) has entered the debate. It also asks;. Is age is merely a number? (18th Dec 2012 pp 14-15) They agree with me (without specifically saying so) For me it’s not a case of wanting to be 21 again…it’s being happy to remain 42 for the rest of my life. And it’s Christmas so please ignore the quantum leap in logic…….Let’s see people for what they are….individuals not numbers.

But for every good thing there’s a slight downer. Caffeinely, I lapsed. Now those of you familiar with the work of Prochaska and di Clemente will know that that is not a bad thing in itself so I happily put my hand up to a cup of Crown Plaza cappuchino in the company of BBC Al, the blog’s bad taste pal during the week…..such interesting thoughts from Sue Hi-de-Hi Pollard on the future of the BBC. Lol (As Carmen would say)

And then I got home to find all the doors smashed open and everything gone. I mean what kind of person does that to an Advent Calendar?

Yes. It’s Friday; it’s five to five and it’s Cracker Gags Time…….so as they say when they serve Oasis soup, ‘You get a roll with it….’ 🙂

So I’d a smashing Christmas lunch with some of the folk who use the project down West Dunbartonshire where I do some volunteering but it’s a hotel which I shall not name along the Great Western BOULEVARD where their idea of a non-meat dish is cod seared with bacon and leaks. I scraped off the bacon and justified it to myself by saying  – I am such a hypocrite –  but did come away with this gem;

Q: What do you get if you cross a cowboy with an octopus?

A: Billy the Squid.

And a big thank you to all those who ‘liked’ my Facebook post about my six years’ sobriety (46) and the interesting stories which I shared by many means with many people. I wouldn’t begin to tell people that my way is the only way to sobriety but I am more than happy to share my experiences. Which is what this blog is about.

And nice to see so many students from the college where I taught passing on good wishes………. 🙂

Q: How do snowmen get around?

A: They ride icicles.

And can anyone tell me what the awful Joan McAlpine SNP LIST MSP meant, in the Daily Record,(18th December 2012 p 13) when she wrote…’One look into Connecticut killer Adam Lanza’s dead eyes tells you something was wrong.’ Yes, Joan, they tell you he’s dead! Or do you mean people with staring eyes are loonies and should be in asylums? I never ever thought I’d be sorry for pretentious Pat Kane.

Q; What goes hahahaha, clonk?

A: A man laughing his head off.

And I liked the photo showing how much we are in an Age of Austerity by having a Fairy Liquid bottle at the top of the Christmas tree. I wanted to do the same thing with ASDA’s own label Apple and Pear but it ain’t quite the same……altho’ tbh, that does sound like some of the teas I’ve been drinking recently.

Q: Why would you invite a mushroom to a Christmas party?

A: Cos he’s a fun guy to be with.

And I’ll miss muffin the mule on BBC 1 😦  This has always been my fave piece of children’s TV music……is it yours, children?

Q: Why did the man get the sack from the orange juice factory?

A: Because he couldn’t concentrate.

And finally, yes, I do send out a lot of cards and msgs and mails at this time and to use a word that was used a lot in the last fifteen months there is an agenda – to let people know I am alive. Six years ago I was incapable of doing anything. Present giving and some card writing and paying off credit cards and arranging cleaners to come and clean t850 Towers after  Cold Turkey Sunday was all done by Son Brian and KT, my sis, my ex and her man and my next door neighbour……… well as coming to see me in hospital. There is no other agenda (apart from folk smiling)

And on that lovely note, here’s this year’s bad taste gag….

A pet is not just for Christmas, you can curry it on Boxing Day….(and I apologise for any offence I may have caused but it’s a helluva lot funnier than David Mitchell, Miranda Hart and James Corden on Michael McIntyre the other night)

Cya, (keep)ing it fun and still wearing that badge? Oh, indeed yes…….it speaks volumes for the last six years.

Johnt850, who ten years ago was a hard-drinking, meat eating, coffee drinkin’ BBC journo, but, baby, look at me now.

So to caffeine…..and whist many people may not see it as a drug, it is in tomes such as Street Drugs (Tyler), Out of It (Walton) and Forbidden Drugs (Robson) and I don’t want to get into disease v learned behaviour as a model of addiction debate but making certain changes to my behaviour (do I really need a coffee to type in words in a computer?), a certain amount of prescription substitution (de-caff) and maybe now and again allowing myself a bit of harm reduction (one cup every so often) may well lead to some controlled drinking (a lot less than before) after my detox…….

Yes. Once I get my Master’s done (if ever) I will write that book. We drink and do drugs cos we like what they do to us. Initially.Then  things happen.

And a slightly sheepish word of apology to the Good Dr w (she knows why) but also my thanks to her for suggesting this week’s close to the show. Why have a turkey for Christmas when you can have a duck…….? Watch and learn. I have no control over any inappropriate advertising that may accompany this.

And next week’s the Annual Blog Personality of the Year Awards Ceremony so, in the meantime, from Skippy and me, Merry Christmas 🙂 Enjoy the vid 🙂

When I came to this town I was a letter with the seal unbroken, like those TV shows where no-one knows the word until it is spoken (the mutton birds)

December 15, 2012

And so my sixth anniversary of sobriety happened. And so the demons were dead crafty this time and played a practical joke on me. On this Wendysday just past, they had arranged for me to see a cancer consultant. Basically I had the same problems as had been my prostate cancer symptoms five and half years ago – going for a pee more often than I wanted or, indeed, needed and it wasn’t just not being able to pee at half time in the tip that is the away toilet (?) at Ayr United. 😦

And I wasn’t sleeping well…..and I was wakening too early.

But I wasn’t worried. Much. After all, that PSA blood test I do is fairly static at 0.9. Indeed after my treatment had finished, five years back, and e and I went to Maryhill Health Centre to get that result, it was 3.5 (Don’t worry about the figures. It’s going down and staying down)

So I went and the first thing you do is a flow-test which is kinda like peeing into a bucket – exactly like half-time at Ayr United with a similar result……. And then a bladder scan which showed nothing worrying and then, of course, in the hands of the lady registrar came the moment I’d been expecting. Now I can’t do the odd awareness talk and describe the finger up the bum (Digital Rectal Examination) as ‘twenty seconds of discomfort but it can save your life’ and then flinch, can I? I had prepared. And preparation is vital in this form of anal-ysis. In fact I remember discussing…anyway…..

The moment arrived. Now what does it say about me that I am told by a good looking lady doctor to take down my trousers and pants, lie on my side and assume the foetal position cos she’s already pulling on the marigolds and all I can think of is……..How’s my hair? On my head. There’s a mirror by the couch and I’m happy. A quick flick and I’m ready.

And twenty seconds later it’s done. ‘So how is my prostate?’ I ask. ‘Well’, she says, ‘it’s not enlarged but I can’t tell you how big it is cos my fingers are quite small.’  Reassuring. But now, dear listener, I want to take those words out of context as such:

‘Well, it’s not enlarged but I can’t tell you how big it is cos my fingers are quite small.’

And set you a wee competition. Many publications and entertainment shows, e.g., HIGNFY, have caption competitions where you see the picture and you have to come up with a caption. Here you already have the caption. You draw your own picture. 😉

So the consultant comes in and we talk. I explain my sobriety but we talk my caffeine levels. Oh, and the fact that I drink bout three cans of Red Bull a day…….something I didn’t use to do…but there’s the nun. Sorry. I mean nub………..I have to detox from caffeine for at least two weeks and see how I get on. ‘But’, I cry. ‘It’s my only fix these days. I need it.’ At which point he looked at me and said, ‘how long have you been off the drink?’ So I can do it and, hopefully, this time without the cold turkey but with the help of Red Bush (not Red Bull). We’ll see. 🙂

So my last ever (for a while) cup of coffee was in Costa on Thursday with the Vampire Slayer. We were discussing holiday cover for the festive period on the vampire front and I forgot you don’t get a cup of coffee in Costa – you get a soup bowl. It will last me for ever. Usually uneventful place, Costa, and we sat across from two women and then the drunk came up from downstairs, shouting about the red mist and how much there was of it and sat on the floor beside me, the VS and the two women, cried a wee bit and banged his head on the table a few times and walked away. He actually seemed fine. Uneventful place, Costa.

And finally, my thanks to Study Buddie Fi for her help with some editing stuff recently. One of the ‘clients’ was working out of China and I didn’t realise that, which explains the odd hours the work was being sent at and why it didn’t arrive at 1800 Summerston time but 1800 Shangai time; and another client wanted to pay me in cash which I don’t normally like but we arranged to meet in Starbucks, which allowed me the opportunity to say in a loud voice, ‘I will be declaring this’. Lol (as Carmen would say). Actually if you want to know the name of one of the worst tax avoiders just type Google into your  computer…….Eh, that’s it. Google.

Cya, Keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? With renewed vigour.

Johnt850, fast running out of things to drink, eat or snort but still fun to go out with.

And so, on the day itself, I put up on Facebook a quick word about my six years of sobriety and substance-freeness and when I last looked I’d had 46 likes, 12 public comments (and no matter how often you posted Sharon, you only count as one) and several private messages by various means and where various stories were shared. 🙂

I am/was flabbergasted. I talk ‘bout my support team. But words just can’t hack it.  I once had a discussion with a man from AA who disagreed with me and said you do it for yourself not for other people. I agree with part of that but maybe if I had a Higher Power separate from the Twelve Steps, the support team would be it.

I didn’t plan it this way. When I left Gartnavel six years ago, bailed out (not for the last time) by my sis, I didn’t plan this. Being still full of jellies and drink I wasn’t aware of the self-help groups like AA which offer friendship as well as support; I was just aware that my family and neighbours knew so I just told people. It seemed a natural thing to do. And I’m so glad I did. My friends have chosen to be my friends.

Excuse me while I go and look in the mirror. Yup. That’s me. Despite everything I am still here. And still 42……The ego continues to land.  

A ‘seasoned’ broadcaster and good BBC friend, John Cavanagh, suggested this as appropriate……thanks everyone

I got ecstacy but I need some company….You got that mystery. Lord I need a plan. All I need is a compromise and a bag full of alibis, Lord as empty as that bottle of whisky in my shaking hands

December 9, 2012

So Alabama 3 there, usually the portent of bad things to come but, whilst this edition of the blog is going to talk a wee bit about the coming of the demons to a head near mine soon – in fact it will be mine – it’s a wee bit more than that. Most listeners know about my cold turkey (severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms) of six years ago; the hallucinations; the vomiting and diarrhoea and stuff; and the out of body experience, before being ambulanced to the Western but then wakening up in Gartnavel.

I was in there for about 8 – 12 days (I’ve never asked) and I couldn’t discharge myself, cos not only were there all sorts of drips and needles in me, there were bars around the bed; I had to learn to walk with the aid of a zimmer; there was a lot of lovely blue pills; and I don’t care what anyone says about hospital food, I loved it – three meals a day and they were cooked for you.

And then the diagnosis of cancer later in the year, yaddah, yaddah, yad…….it wasn’t a great twelve months but, hey, look at me now. Alabama 3 make me smile as well as make me review my angst. 🙂

But the last twelve months have been interesting and I’m not going to dwell on individual events and people but more than ever, I realise that my latest and final career change is what I want to do. I bore enough people, as it is, about wanting to work, not just in treatment, but in recovery. The MSc dissertation will tell you more at an appropriate time about the difference and there does seem to be an expectation that I am planning a book. Maybe.

But two events stand out and these were good……..some events were not so good but that’s not what today’s show is about.

The first was a Recovery Day held at Paisley Town Hall where the day was spent with ‘professionals’ and service users. I teamed up with a crew from Moving On in Port Glasgow and any controversy about the debate between ‘recovering ‘and ‘recovered’ was knocked on the head when we decided that the idea was to get ‘clean and clear’ and stay that way. The whole day was spiritual in that a sharing of a good feeling took place throughout all those who were there and we all left with a determination to spread the words that recovery is possible – advocacy for addicts. Telling the whole world the story of your success (or your attempts) ain’t arrogance; it’s justified pride.

The second was the share I did at the placement I did out in Easterhouse. The tradition of sharing is a major part of how AA (and the other Fellowships) operate – that telling your story of how you achieved sobriety can hopefully help others.  Only in Easterhouse there was no table between me and twenty users and workers and there was no ‘one singer, one song’ rule when it came to being asked questions. I found myself telling more than I thought I would and an understanding of how heavy a drinker I had been in my BBC and PR days emerged. Ironically, I had started to get my life together as a college lecturer doing courses’n’that and then mum took ill……….alcohol is good at filling the void.

So I’m here. I’m doing this uni-thing; I’m still doing some editing stuff (with some smashing help); I do some voluntary stuff for an addiction centre out West Dunbartonshire; and some (paid) shifts with a housing charity in the East End – all with a view to full-time work in recovery and some more writing. We’ll see.

So it’s a wee bit more complicated this year, cos on the day itself (12th Dec), I have an appointment with the cancer consultant who told me five and half years ago that I had cancer and the appointment is not about cancer, but you can’t help but think……….and I know some people, including the incredibly rational and patient rainforestriverman, think I bring the demons on by thinking about them. Naw. They’ll come and it is usually just the once very twelve months. Yes. They had a wee go in June but they were forced to flee. Me and my team were strong.

So what, you ask, actually happens? Well actually, and ironically, given why I’m going to see the consultant, I sleep all the way through the night, almost as good as the sleeping pill I occasionally take…….but I’ll get hit by dreams. Bad dreams. I will go to bed, tho’ with a list of good thoughts and I’ll get through the night. The good thoughts, tho’, I’ll keep to myself if you don’t mind. But one of them does relate to the World’s shortest plane journeys. The other night I found the certificate which I’d laminated at my placement in Easterhouse. I was looking for some drugs


And finally, I’ve avoided mentioning individuals and what they’ve done for me over the last twelve months. All positive, albeit in some indirect ways. I get the impression that many of them will receive their recognition in the Blog Personality of the Year Awards in three weeks’ time. Some pretty amazing nominations and voting going on, all of which in some way, reflect the year.

Cya, (keep)ing it fun and still wearing that badge? Yup. That’s the most painful part of the night. I don’t wear pyjamas or stuff 😦

Johnt850, who will be here next week. Honest. And it’ll be a return to normal…….

So nothing below the line this week. If you’ve sat through all the above then you deserve something light but you’re not going to get it. Music has been a huge part of my recovery and the last time I had bad depression (a blackness that lasted about five days and involved an awful lot of walking) I came out of it when this tune came on the MP3 player.

It’s Green Day. Some of you were expecting the Gaslight Anthem, weren’t you? Enjoy!