Archive for May, 2013

Any organisation created out of fear must create fear in order to survive (Bill Hicks)

May 24, 2013

And so, dear listener, I never made it to the sober Recovery Night last Sunday so I never found out what it was like to sing karaoke sober or to disco dance (for want of a better expression) sober – or as sober as everyone else is in the company. I discussed this with one or two people and they said that they would find it difficult to do these things without ‘a wee drink’ in them.

The front suspension ring thing had gone in my car and my car was going nowhere…well to the garage to get fixed (thanks AA* man) and it was fixed the next day…….so a large part of Sunday was cancelled or re-arranged – ‘can you now come up and pick me up?’ 😦

*Automobile Association

I’m not too bad when the rest of the company is drinking and doing things (as opposed to just drinking) but a real test of that particular pudding will come at the wedding of this and any other century at the end of next month….omg! It’s getting closer! It’s a ceildh band… at some point I will need to sit down with Youtube or similar and look at those dances…the Gay Sergeant and the Dashing White Waltz and so on. I’ll be fine. 🙂

I’ve got an inclination to smoke tobacco cigarettes at the moment. No. No reason. As well as a tattoo. Maybe it’s the company I’m not keeping. Now that the transcribing is done I want to get out as much as possible before the school holidays which always seems to have some kind of knock-on effect on much of my recent life but I’ve never been sure why…(time to get real, jt!)

So I’ve not mentioned the prostate cancer for some time but I helped out at a Prostate Cancer UK stand at a Health Fair in the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank. It’s joined to the hip of the Beardmore Hotel where on Tuesday, as I arrived, a conference was registering. Can I just say thanks to them for having the politeness not to say anything as I helped myself to Danish Pasties and fresh fruit altho’ I was obviously so much not one of them?

So how do you measure the success of a health fair? Well, in my case, I came home with a glass which shows me how many units I’m drinking, lots of pens, two samples of Aloe Vera gel and a six inch long rubber carrot, which I’m supposed to squeeze when I’m stressed. I intend to carry it everywhere and take it out on trains. Should other people wish to squeeze it, they will be more than welcome 😉

I did one Health Fair in Bellshill which was really badly attended apart from the free haircuts. The only stalls to swap things with were the healthy eating stand and the Terence Higgins Trust. I came home with a large leek, two onions, a potato and a small pack of favoured condoms (chocolate was one of them)……..

In my days as a PR pro (ha!) trade exhibitions were good, especially things like Food and Drink exhibitions, where you received really good freebies (lots of whisky miniatures and big cheeses) and, because so many people had travelled up from, say, London to work at these, there was a lot of thematic coding*, really hot and raunchy thematic coding. :-$

*It’s my euphemism for partying…….It’ll help me to get on with it altho’ ultimately I will be disappointed. Excuse me a second while I squeeze my carrot.

And finally, I have drawn a personal line under much of what was happening on a personal basis at this time last year and events that led to me almost drinking again. When I say ‘drinking again’, I don’t mean having a weekend bender and putting things behind me; I mean drinking to black out. Nightly. It’s a difficult thing to explain if you’ve never been there. I have been asked to ‘leave it’ and I will. Matters of business import is a totally different can of cheese, though.

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? Yes, but I have still to introduce it to the carrot.

Johnt850, wild and misty, like the Isles.

So in America, the head of that Rifles Association say the only way to beat a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

In South London, they do it differently. There they leave it to the womenfolk who lie beside the dying serviceman and pray for him, talk to the two (alleged) murderers and prevent any carnage caused by Have-A-Go heroes or just ignore their meaningless rants and walk on by with their shopping trolleys.

In Edinburgh, they do things differently. The crew of HMS Edinburgh are given the freedom of the city as a thanks for their efforts both in protecting us and promoting the city and are then refused service in a pub called the Ensign Ewart cos they were in uniform….as one well-known Daily Mail columnist would say, ‘You couldn’t make it up.’

Drummer Rigby was not in uniform; apparently he was wearing a Help4Heroes top…..ironic after what I said last week, isn’t it?

Steve Earle was against the wars in Iraq and was ostracised by much of the US media at the time. This is he.

Recovery should be enjoyed, not endured………

May 18, 2013

And just minutes after this blog gets posted on Facebook (kinda its official publication) I’m off to an event down Dunbartonshire way which seeks to provide an evening out for many people, like myself, who don’t drink or do drugs. Amongst other highlights, there’s a karaoke disco.

Ask yourselves, dear listeners; have you ever spent the night doing karaoke or disco dancing without a drink in you? Some sober tasks are harder than others. I’ll let you know how I get on. It used to be Summertime Blues but that was a long time ago.

The wee line above is the tagline they have used for the event. It means there will be lots of happy smiling faces tonight 😀 and not people full of doom and gloom, going ‘woe is me’ 😦

For me, I suppose, it’s one way of celebrating one part of the Domination Degree being over. I have now done eight interviews – two of which have still to be transcribed – and then it’s a matter of thematic coding (No. Me neither) and then it’s the writing. I make the point again that soontime I will become more or less a hermit for about five to six weeks (weddings excluded) and that I am keen to catch up with some folk.

(It is at this point, a form of paranoia kicks in where I worry in case I’ve said something not nice to someone by one of the many means of communication I use – or even worse – not said something).

Mind you I’ve been a wee bit remiss. There’s not been a meeting of the High Council for some time. Actually, some people have been saying; Is the Vampire Slayer okay? Watch this space.

But I need to lose weight – kilt wearing or no kilt-wearing. There are at least two pairs of denims where I cannot do the top button. This time last year I was getting into waist size 30 no problem. What is the difference between then and now? Yup. I’m not walking as much; I’m eating too much chocolate and too many crisps: there’s not enuff tuna in my diet 😉 ; and I’m watching too much TV.

Speaking of which….whilst the nation was getting ready for its apoplexy at the sight of John Terry coming on fully-kitted after the game was over, me and the man they call Bean, and newly appointed dad Dougie L, and one or two others were watching a smashing football match on BBC Alba between Alloa and Dunfermline – a gem of a game. Over the years Dunfermline, like many other teams, have spent too much on mediocre players, but one of the sights that will remain with me for ever, after we’d played them in Dunfermline, was all the coke and pie-sellers (aged 16-17 ish) hanging around after the game waiting to get paid.

And I’d like to say a big thanks to young AJ for holding my hand as he walked alone along that big wall. I wasn’t scared that he’d fall – no. not me – I still have panther-like reflexes. At least in Hillhead Librray, but that dear listener is for another day.

And finally, a few months ago, the Good Dr W ran a challenge called Tough Mudder (see for a frightening video about what’s involved). The main beneficiary was a charity called Help for Heroes and I had purchased a wrist band in their name. A good friend of mine harrumphed; ‘Hadn’t I seen the Newsnight where the charity was accused of ‘mis-spending funds?’’ No, I hadn’t and continued to wear the band. This week Newsnight apologised. I owe my good friend £15. I’m sure he won’t mind if I give it to Help for Heroes and I’m sure he’ll match it……

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? Yes, but maybe not tonight.

Johnt850, for once not looking at himself in mirrors

So a few days ago a musician friend sent me a copy of his latest CD, which I will plug shamelessly on another occasion.

I’d known him at school and he also sent me a programme from a school performance of Orpheus in the Underworld in which I played Mercury, Messenger of the Gods. I genuinely don’t remember much about it other than I was given aluminium wings for my legs to give the impression of running through the sky.

I did no rehearsals with them and wore them for the first night. They tore my legs to shreds. They still had rough edges. Maybe they were put together by the tech teacher I’d once thrown a block of wood at. The bastard getting his own back.

But even then I had an ego and played it all for sympathy. I kept going much to the adulation of (some of) the female extras in the chorus. But the following night, they were made of light cardboard. These days I might sue for some form of compensation but we were a tougher breed then. Our thoughts were solely on the fact that we would not be able to get to the pub before it shut and hopeful that someone had got some cans in for the dressing room. Happy daze.

Wonder whatever happened to Anne Forman, AndreaTocher, Susan Tait, Gail Summers and Elizabeth Haywood? No. No reason.

This is The Who performing Summertime Blues on a quiet Sunday night in Monterey with no drink or drugs having been partaken obviously. Shows what you can do (the quality’s not bad for 1967);

When God handed out genes for discipline, I’d nipped out for a Gregg’s steak bake and a tart (Shari Low)

May 11, 2013

I am in a strange position, dear listener – and not for the first time. I feel fat and bloated and I am in the mood to exercise and lose weight but I can’t. I have been measured for my dress for this, the wedding of this and any other century, and I have to stick to it. Okay. the weather’s not great but I am in that moood. 🙂

I am also tired. On Friday night, I did a nice simple 10.45 to 6.45 night shift – and it’s amazing the difference between Glasgow at 10.30 on a Friday night and 7 on a Saturday morning….last night was longer. I did a twelve hour night shift so if I drift off, please be patient. Skippy is standing by with a bucket of cold water and a wet flannel. Both were busy but quiet.

I have a good friend, with whom I occasionally meet up. Regular listeners can guess. Often she will say, as we stroll through the landscape that was once zombie strewn Glasgow, ‘I don’t recognise this in daylight.’ I am seeing lots of Glasgows these days. I ate in a smashing wee Italian cafe/diner at the Finnieston end of Argyle Street recently. Not, Rainforestriverman, the pasta strewn fooderie with checked tablecloths that you hanker for but smashing food, good company and a staircase so redolent of my own. 🙂

Right that’s the airy fairy arty stuff out of the way. let’s boogie.

So me, Son Brian, KT’s dad and KT’s bro were discussing my funeral, as you do at pre-wedding get togethers and, do you know, I have not specified what I want in my coffin as it hits the flames. That does need some thinking. Obvs I have specified two pieces of music. ‘One,’ I said, ‘is Anthem by Alex Harvey. It’s very long but worry not….’ My son completed the sentence….’you’ve marked where to come in, haen’t you?’ Well, yes.

The other is a secret but my lawyer has details. It’s on one of my MP3 players and every so often, it will come up on Shuffle and I smile.

Incidentally, I love the idea of a radio alarm clock that projects the time on to the ceiling, rather like a call for Batman. My own current clock – a present from the woman who was to become my ex-wife on the day when we went our separate ways (she got a camera) does not work as well as it used to. An incident in the not too distant past which involved a glass of water and a stuffed hippo and.. and…and..

And finally, my domination degree is proceeding but, very soon, it will have to be written. A combo of it and nuptuals mean that June and July may see me hermitting. This means that doors will be knocked. There are people out there I have not seen for a while and I know the weather’s not great for some of the ideas that have been discussed but you have been warned…….mmmmm. I want out to play. Soon. 😉

cya (keep)ing it fun and still wearing that badge? It’s now paranoid about the coffin notion.

Johnt850, happy to call himself a ‘motivated former problem drinker’.

So Motherwell footballer Michael Higdon wins a big award, gets pissed and has altercation with bouncer as a result of which he ends up in the cells overnight. We all smile, presumably on the basis that we’ve (mostly) all been there and the matter ends. I think this is good and realistic and fair and should be remembered when next a player is found to have traces of another drug in his system, eg cocaine or one of the more ‘recreational’ drugs….. After all we’ve mostly all…….maybe, that’s the problem. We haven’t.

From two of the projects where I work I can see the length of Sauchiehall Street – well the nice and sleazy end of it. It’s not just the contrast between Glasgow the city that I can see these days – it’s me today and me, maybe the way I once was. I like the word ‘motivated’. I may use it. Oh, I have.

I mentioned that I’d recently been watching a lot of TV. I saw a lovely little documentary on country music and this piece of music is a straight lift. I know there are people out there who don’t look at these clips, but, please, this time, make an exception. This is Johnny Cash considering his funeral in a slightly different way from the way I’ve been doing it. It is incredibly moving.

Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which animates all whom it floats, and you are without effort impelled to truth, to right and a perfect containment. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

May 4, 2013

And so dear listener, a few weeks ago I was locked in a car – not my car and not my decision – just me and a baby so I did what you always do in these circumstances. I looked around for something to read and found a copy of David Mitchell’s autobiography. It’s quite clever in that he takes a walk through a part of London well-known to him and he uses the streets and parks and places to jog his memory and create chapters for him. I had thought to use his technique one day but a wander (omg I’m using his style) through Maryhill and the West End of Glasgow brought up some memories I do not want to recall publicly. ‘Did I really?’ and ‘Just the once, surely’ and ‘What did I think I was doing?’ (and as for Frampton’s!) ….a lot of people were unaware of the Maryhill side of things during a certain period seeing me as a BBC man and reasonably good dad….it was an interesting period…. I think.

So I decided to try it in Glasgow City Centre one day – surely the memories would be gentler?

Where the hell did all these American sweetie shops come from?

I mean I do have some stories attached to the Pound shops; the Wetherstones; and the charity shops but these sweetie shops have taken over – like taking over things (Skippy we need a word to describe ‘taking over things’) and, yes, I have been in and they seem very expensive….I was thrown. Not out. Just thrown.

So instead I watched some strange TV this week…well MasterChef and some snooker. Like the entire world I was rooting for Natalie but loved one piece of commentary when the voice over said, ‘Larkin has neglected his parmesan chips.’ I thought, you bastard, Larkin, how could you?

But the ultimate was a classic piece of Dennis Taylor which deserves a massive audience;
‘I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Neil Robertson tied up by the balls before. Have you Terry?…(silence)…Terry?’

Better than ‘the batsman’s Holding. The bowler’s Willey’. I often tell people whose work I edit, to read it out loud. Hear what it really sounds like. Do it for both those.

I speak as someone who, in an e-mail this week told a lady friend that it was ‘getting harder so I was using cream’. This, of course , referred to a surfeit of cake in my house. What else, dear listener, what else?

And the frenzy that is the preparation for this, the wedding of this and any other century continues. The gentlemen of the wedding party (how many styles of writing am I going through today?) retired to a Bearsden Golf Club on Friday night. I had been given dress code and I stuck to it, although the clean shoes proved difficult. The clubhouse was quiet and we ate and drank overlooking the first tea, sorry tee. It had been raining and I was told the ladies event had been cancelled. I didn’t ask; just conjectured. I’d have to say there was an element of the last days of the Raj about it (not that I remember the last days, etc, etc…..) except we ended up watching rugby from Scotstoun Showground in Glasgow with the commentary half in Gaelic and half in Engish, which was awfully nice. Fewer than two months to go and I’ve been told how to tie my brogues.

And finally, the arrogance and ignorance of the SPL never ceases to amaze me. Peter Lawwell of Celtic stands up and says we should be able to buy booze in football grounds and everyone goes Wow – let’s discuss it totally unaware of the fact that many SFL clubs already do. Partick Thistle legally run a match day bar on well, match days, and there has been no trouble this year until…… until Celtic and Rangers fans come to watch an Under 17s match there. The result….seats and flares thrown onto the pitch and people arrested……Any comment, Peter?

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? Aye but it couldn’t help but do with some fresh air and the hills.

Johnt850, with very tired eyes from transcribing what I still call tapes.

So a final word about Partick Thistle but it’s about the part they, and some fans, have played in my recovery over the last four years.

After the cancer and the cold turkey I was sitting in on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I’d been a Clydebank fan but for a range of reasons I’d stopped going a long time previously. PT play not far from me so it made sense to go there. I contacted BBC Steve who said you’re more than welcome but we do drink before and after; it’s okay says I. I just want out on a Saturday afternoon but after a few weeks I talked about going to the pub with them so John-Paul was designated to take me, separately to another bar to see how I coped.

I passed the test and I became a Doublet drinker and I went to away matches on trains where carry-oots were shared except where I was concerned. The can was passed past me but I stood my round in various bars in various parts of Scotland. And then I became a student and I started going with some folk by car but meeting the others there and someone lovely came into my life and went out again but that kinda affected my attendance as has a lot of the editing and homeless housing shifts that I now do but it’s the same crowd of guys.

No stigma; no discrimination and the only labelling? The Harry Wraggness of us all… Looking forward to next season already. Are you?

This is for they. Profanity Alert.