Archive for September, 2013

if it’s hard work just thinking about it, don’t do it. if you’re trying to write like somebody else, forget about it. if you have to wait for it to roar out of you, then wait patiently. if it never does roar out of you, do something else (Charles Bukowski)

September 29, 2013

Bukowski is a writing hero of mine but a very acquired taste. He, and his character, was a womanising, drunken gambler and worked in the Post Office in the USA. He writes in a shambolic way – not always recognised by his peers and when he does reading tours round the unies, they seem to turn into excuses for womanising and drinking. Eventually when, in real life, he reached 64 he married a woman exactly half his age and cut back. On the drinking. I’m not sure why he’s a hero of mine. 😛

His stories are good but don’t expect happy endings…oh hang on. There is one with a happy ending but in case you’re sensitive, I won’t tell you which one it is. Or what is done to achieve the happy ending.

No, dear listener, his words come from a poem of his called You Want to be a Writer but an awful lot of it applies to people who would rather not do anything with their lives (like relax) but always find excuses or prolong reasons when in actual fact they have so much to offer. I think it may be something to do with the kinda work I kinda do and have kinda researched recently. Where I leave the projects smiling cos there’s a lot more good news than sometimes the bad stuff I tell.

People get flats of their own, get jobs, get access to their kids and clean up their acts.

And I think I’m okay with the ghost of a few weeks ago but there’s a new nuisance. Like most buildings these days there is CCTV on entrances and hallways – nothing intrusive. On one of the cameras the other night I couldn’t help but notice the existence of a spider’s web and see when the spider walks across the front of the camera……. JEEZ!!!! I’ll swear it turns round and smiles at you…..after five minutes gibbering as only a wreck can, I went out with brush and went for it…….I didn’t kill it. It may have had family….it would have been all over the world wide web….. 😦


Unless it comes out of your souls like a rocket, unless being still would drive you to madness or suicide or murder, don’t do it. unless the sun inside you is burning a gut, don’t do it.

Wise words in sooo many ways other than just for potential writers. They’re getting me through a lot just now.

Job apps are going in but there’s a sense of punting at the bookies when I do one. (When I say ‘when I do one’ there are so many connotations involved in that phrase) I mean place a bet. I’ve studied the form; I’ve filled out the bet app form; and I’ve handed over the money. Goodnight Vienna.

Going back to the spider! Does anyone out there remember sweetie cigarette cards (American based) in which giant ants and beetles and spiders took over the world until the world got its act together and fought back successfully? Hey, I was aged single figures and had touched nothing stronger than that vile red stringy liquorice but I did have early hots for Andrea Stuart….(that’s a woman’s name, btw, and not a typo…….)

Who IS Lampwick, btw?

I’m about slag the BBC but before I do so can I lay millions of praise upon A Very British Murder with (the lovely) Lucy Worsley, a woman who could make a pair of grey stockings come alive with a Jolly Hockey sticks smile but an academic bent. (Not a description she may wish to put on her CV) but if you get a chance, watch her…….and the programme.

Eat Sleep Rave Repeat…..Eat Sleep Rave Repeat…..Eat Sleep Rave Repeat….

Not Bukowksi but Flat Boy Slim. 🙂

And finally, I did watch the Gazza prog. It was sad. There is a convention that stops me doing personal comparisons so all I’ll say is that he needs a routine, and a focus, and a daily re-hab group offering a range of ways of help would be good but maybe his ‘management team’ and ‘friends and family’ keeping him out of the media would help more than anything else.

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? Polishing up for the job interviews even as we speak.

Johnt850, who is really worried about Lampwick and the spiders.

So I suppose I done the serious bit in the Gazza strip there.

And I done a wee bit of what inspires me as well in the Bukowski writing so before I do my own usual music link I want to do another.

We have so much still to understand about the terrorist attack by terrorists (not ‘militants’ as the BBC wanted us to believe they were so we could understand more about what motivated then, it was reported) terrorists who cold bloodedly killed anyone who moved, regardless of man, woman or child or religion…..

Anyway this BBC link (ironically) tells the story of some of the heroes of the siege. Read it and then read Bukowski again and then change your life for ever but with a smile on your face…..I am around if I can help.

A bit of a ramble this week but fresh air’s good for you. As is rail travel and this is a smashing mash-up of the old and the new and it is Public Service Broadcasting…….anyone interested in Public Service Broadcasting should watch this and my thanks to Ken Garner for drawing my attention to it.

All I want is the wind in my hair, To face the fear but not feel scared. Wild horses, I wanna be like you. Throwing caution to the wind, I’ll run free too.

September 20, 2013

And so dear listener, in the week that GTA V made its debut, a strange memory of fear came trickling back to me. It’s the reason I don’t play video games anymore. It was Doom. I had sat back, confident that I had handled everything properly when I got taken from behind. Unexpectedly. By an Alien. Altho’, tbh, had it been a fellow marine I’d have been equally as surprised. I have never been the same since. 😦

Angry Birds is Hitchcock; Tetris in any form is me being buried alive; and Scrabble is beyond me.

And I still don’t know what ghostly noises I heard in the project last week but I was back there for a 4 – 11 shift and nothing else similar had been logged. To me it was real but lone-working night shifts can do that to you. Even when they’re quiet.

Other memories of a fashion came back this week. My brain has been badly affected over the years by substance misuse, successful recovery from that and some of the cancer stuff – also successful recovery. It’s not False Memory Syndrome; it’s more Do I Really Remember That Syndrome? or Was I Really There Syndrome?

I was in Govan – the ‘for why’ will follow. I used to spend a lot of time in Govan a few years ago. ‘I knew people’ is the euphemism but I did a lot of programme making there as well. A smashing radio doc called ‘String of Pearls’ began life there. It was about the demise of the shipyards and the then future ideas for using the Clyde.

It had a smashing researcher (Jayne but more of her later) and a budget for a presenter. We didn’t use a presenter preferring to let the people speak for themselves. The budget, however, went to a great party. Thanks. 😀

I also researched a TV prog squillions of years ago in which a very diverse busload of children toured Glasgow and talked about the city they knew from a spiritual PoV. If Beta-Max ever makes a comeback I will let you see it. The credits were spoken by the schoolkids on a crummy site by WaterRow. It’s changed.

So I was invited over to the Pearce Institute to see the world premiere of Here’s Tae Yer Health, a community produced doc ( ) about our attitudes to alcohol. I parked outside what was once The Lyceum Cinema; looked in desperation for the Black Cat Café; and saw the other side of the Govan Shopping Centre for the first time in a long time. I am guilty of driving past Govan going to the Beeb or Prostate Cancer UK HQ or the M74 (I was lost). I also took a smashing pic of the Tall Ship leaning against the Riverside Museum with all of North Glasgow behind it…….yup…memories trickled back. 😉

Jayne and I went for a cup of coffee to Café 13. Highly recommended. Both going for a cup of coffee with Jayne. And Café 13.

The doc? There is editing to be done and there is so much good in it discussing, historically and currently, our fascination with alcohol and it was good to see after the rigours of Master’s writing.

I know the Campus frat bar area of Glasgow fairly well and the fast food outlet that is open until 4 in the morning. They were in the doc. That was not a remark out of nowhere, proving I’m down with the kids at 3 in the morning. I have watched terrified as people try to cross Sauchiehall Street, oblivious to the traffic at that time of day, including, recently some Belgian fans – one of whom was lifted. But it is the Master’s Class Nite Out this Friday…so you never know. 🙂

A lot of folk of all ages explained in the film why they liked to get ‘rat-arsed’ – ‘it’s fun’ ‘it’s what you do with your mates’ ‘I just enjoy getting mad wi’ it’ and ‘after the shitty day I’ve had, getting drunk is the best way of coping’…….all of them fairly good reasons. The only person to use the words ‘illness’ and ‘disease’ was the politician……..I refer m’learned friends to Page 44 of the dissertation……

And I have pleasant memories of Brechin’s Bar. Euphemistically, I used to do some business there.

Moving swiftly on.

OMG! How jumpy am I? I thought something weird was happening with The Chrome Icon but it was a very small fly walking in circles on it. I’m not that jumpy. I’ve just cut back so much on coffee and caffeine drinks, I feel their effect much more than I did when I used them. This time I’ve been cutting back slowly (harm reduction) rather than do the ‘cold turkey’ thang again.

And finally, I met Billy Connolly two or three times when I worked for the Beeb in Queen Margaret Drive – not long conversations. It was part of the fun of that building that when you spoke to someone famous you pretended you weren’t fazed by them and fair play to Billy – when he met me, he wasn’t.

Cya, (keep)ing it fun and still wearing that badge? New and old voyages beckon.

Johnt850,and I’m around.

Today’s really final word is about Connolly. Unsurprisingly. I know nothing ‘bout Parkinson’s Disease but I know a lot ‘bout Prostate Cancer and I get annoyed at the language used in the press. 😦

Some commentators talked about him ‘fighting’ or ‘battling’ prostate cancer and in the next para quoted his spokesperson as saying, ‘he had fully recovered from a prostate op.’ His problem had been found at a relatively early stage in a male seventy year old and, hopefully, is fixed. He is fine on the prostate front. It’s when you don’t get it checked you should worry.

My own specific blood test is 1.3 – which is a small rise in the wrong direction, but it is low. I go see the legendary Nurse ED on a date in November and I will get another blood test before then.

No. No battling. No really….like a lot of things in the past I had ‘it’. ‘It’ got sorted. 🙂

For Jo and the rest of next week’s team, here’s Bon Jovi. And this is what I mean when I say to people ‘I’m around.’

Some say that I am dumb and think that I’m wrong for thinking outside of the box but there’s so many things I can achieve, I won’t let them put me off (Roll Deep)

September 14, 2013

And so dear listener, I have received a piece of paper from the uny, telling me that I have ‘satisfied the requirements for the award of MSc Alcohol and Drug Studies’; and yes, I am applying for jobs. Son Brian will be happy. Bridges still need to be re-built with the Housing Charity but I did do two night shifts this week and one of them was the most frightening experience I have known for some time. 😦

I won’t say where it was…just in case. But it’s one where the nightshift worker lone-works but there is another worker on a sleepover….just in case…..

It’s three o’clock in the morning and I have been through the two floors of the building and emptied all the bins into binbags (there are chores to be done). It’s quiet but there is no chance of me drifting off cos I took two Pro Plus earlier (I’m still trying to avoid caffeine drinks). I’m thinking of doing a wee tour when I hear footsteps outside in the close. I look at the CCTV covering the stairs and landings (and that’s all it does) and there is no-one.

The hairs at the back of my neck are rising even now.

There are still footsteps. Goosebumps. I am sweating. Let’s think about this rationally but I am not a rational person; I am an impulsive, slightly hyper, person. So let’s impulse…..I open the door onto the landing. Nothing and no-one. I close it. I check the floor I am already on. Nothing and no-one. Okay. Let’s go for it. I go onto the landing and go upstairs and check the second floor. Nothing and no-one. Now the scary bit. I go into the dunny where I put the bin bags. Nothing and no-one. Even look into the bit outside at the back. Nothing and no-one. I breathe easier and go back upstairs. I sit down, breathe out and hear the sound of a glass bottle being dropped in the close but not breaking.

I do not leave the office again until 5.30 when the sun rises; the Morton’s Rolls are being delivered to the shop across the road; and trains are running. Civilisation wakes up and I venture out again…….Nothing and no-one until my relief arrives at seven and I go home……..Vampire Slayer, you came so close to getting a call.

So it’s been a quiet week.

Interesting that I knew a few folk who went to Stan Petrov’s game last week (Buttons and uni-Sharon and members of their respective families) and I saw the indirect knock-on effect of the money raised when I did an info gig at a conference for Scottish voluntary cancer groups. Apparently I did it last year. I was recognised. Lots of people who give to charity assume it goes to helping research and people; a lot of it goes to the things that I and so many people do – increasing awareness……thank you. 🙂

And Buttons, once again, thanks again for this month’s Word of the Week…….No. I liked it sooo much I’m keeping it to myself. But it was with interest that I looked around my fellow PT fans on Saturday. Yup. @soulboydaviebee to a tee.

So it’s been a busy week.

Having achieved two Post Grads with the help of work experience in Easterhouse I was delighted to see it in a TV listing as a ‘Glasgow suburb’ Yes. Parity with Bearsden at last. I spent a whole day with the Community Drugs Rehab in West Dunbartonshare where some of the folk have been helping to refurbish a lovely building called Overtoun House – it’s massif and I couldn’t stop saying ‘Wow’ round every corner. I did some manual work. It’s over-rated. 🙂

Lloyd’s created a new bank – TSB – and I like the interpretation put on it by the rainforestriverman – Trusted Sister’s Bank…those of you who know anything about my financial affairs will appreciate that. Our dad started off in the Peterhead branch of the Aberdeen Savings Bank.

Son Brian and wee RJ shared the same actual birthdate which is the same date as the day some folk had to break into our mother’s house eight years ago. They knew she had collapsed but she had put her keys in the locks on the inside. I arrived just after they had gained entry. I gave Son Brian his pressie two days late. This year.

Moving slowly on…..

So I’m thinking a book. I have an idea. I told the librarian. She smiled but the lady serving coffee in Qwerty’s asked if that was me back for the new term…she didn’t actually say ‘perpetual student’…..just in case…and I’ve got a Post-It here that says ‘the ducks are almost in a row’….No. No idea.

And finally, despite the result at Firhill today every decent football fan will applaud the banner from the Aberdeen fans in standing up against those sick Rangers trolls who attacked one of Scotland’s top sports broadcasters……as it said


Cya, (keep)ing it fun and still wearing that badge? No I’ve been wearing the Prostate Cancer UK one… says soooo much

Johnt850 who has sooo much in common with Louis Tomlinson from 1D. Says Buttons.

It’s my hair. I am ‘preoccupied’ and ‘obsessed’ by it. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age for this cancer. Even accurate stats say that. And I felt that when I started radiotherapy (or sandblasting as we called it at the time). Most of the men were short of hair. On their head. Not a consequence of the radiation. It burns off all the hair in that part of the body closest to the prostate. And very comfortable it is too. Six and a half years on.

Anyway. I made a conscious decision. I decided to keep my hair (relatively) long. It marked me out as different. As did my decision that black was my favest colour. And I’ve stuck to that ever since. It’s why people recognise me. One year on. And I like flicking it. Cos I can. That’s why.

Here’s my mate Louis and the rest of his combo. Of course I know which one he is. We’re like twins.


I’m headed for somewhere else, I’m guessing the time will tell. Cause it’s a long way home. Courage to carry on. And now I got to be oh so strong Cause it’s a long way home

September 8, 2013

And so, dear listener, RJ has been named. ‘But,’ I hear you cry, ‘RJ has been named. She’s called RJ.’ Ah, dear listener, if only it were that simple. In my young day, just over forty years ago, I was christened. A man in black (No. Not Johnny Cash. If only) poured some water over me and said, ‘I now pronounce you Johnt850. For better or for worse.’ Or similar. 🙂

No. RJ took part in the Humanist Alternative to the religious service and was ‘named’. A similar ceremony in many ways with a celebrant, a guide parent and some food and drink………and oh, those cupcakes….their baking timed to perfection.

And it all went well, and, yes, it did take place in the same castle as AJ’s (approx three years ago) and this time I managed to avoid parking in a rose bed, banging into the car parked behind me and driving home across the lawn. If you want to know the exact date, it was the same day that Dennis Hopper died. Karma.

And I did have a slight parking problem. Again.

Now if only there were an alternative to Humanist services………oh, and I met a friend of yours uni-Sharon… 😉

And not the only birthday on the horizon. Son Brian celebrates his this week and Buttons’s youngest celebrated hers just the other day. She and some others have, I understand, just been to Celtic Park for the Stan Petrov testimonial – apparently she’s very interested in how the referees are currently interpreting the offside laws in terms of an offside player having an influence on things. Oh, hang on there’s a voice in my ear…..ooops…apparently Louis from One Direction was due to be playing….and very well he did too until he was tackled. 😦

I’m not a great fan of testimonials. But I do have one memory of Ken Eadie’s for Clydebank against Rangers several years ago at which I had the privilege of being the announcer and it wasn’t the fact that, for the first time ever, I saw the player whose testimonial it was miss the penalty they’re always given……..

After twenty minutes Richard Gough, Andy Goram and similar came off and I got them taxis back to Ibrox. One well-known name stayed on in a match where eventually the Rangers’ reserve reserve keeper ended up playing centre-half for them – Gazza. Paul Gascoigne doing what he loved best. I make no other comment.

Apparently you can get One Direction Love Hearts…… 😉

And I can’t have been the only football fan in Scotland who wondered when they saw the headline ‘I can fill Kenny’s boots’ attributed to Jamie Mackie. I refer m’learned friends to the case of McCall v Stainrod as often discussed on Off The Ball.

Oh, and in a week when politics was to the fore, can I say well done to Michael Gove (top Tory) for standing up against the Bedroom Tax by saying that to allow children to flourish it is crucial they have their own room.

And like any other blogger and commentator (and I’m afraid that this week’s is just like any other blog for which I apologise and more of that later) I did watch Jamie Oliver, ready to slag him or commend him – either cos of the size of his kitchen which I have seen rarely elsewhere or for the common sense he spoke (I went out and bought a jar of capers the next day), but see all the stuff about us relying on convenience foods……Bob Preston, an hour later, in a lovely little programme (1/4) about the changing nature of shopping nailed it in a oner. A few years back busy working women didn’t want to spend time in the kitchen, so Marks & Spencers catered for them……Two chickens kiev for £1.99 and they’re still doing it today with their Saturday Night In dinners for less than a tenner. Watch and learn Jamie boy! 🙂

And can I add one name to last week’s Naomi Campbell list? Countess Helen of Rosslyn. No. No reason.

And can I say a big thanks to those who sent me Congrats cards on the Master’s…not always from expected sources….

And finally, I met up for the first time for some time with the blogmeister. He’s working for the Yes Campaign. We met in a pub called Waxy O’Connor’s which is one of my favourites. Now it might seem strange that someone with my background and current status may have such things but I do. One of the things I like is that it’s like entering the Tardis. So many areas for the drinking and whilst the Caffreys Cold looked okay, can I say a big wow for the orange juice but like St Jude’s a couple of weeks ago with the Rainforestriverman, there’s a limit to my consumption. If only someone could invent the equivalent of a non-alcoholic shot or short.

Cya (keep)ing it fun and still wearing that badge? Yup. You should have seen the looks the blogmeister got for sitting with me,

Johnt850 or Count John of T850 Towers…….. Count!

So, yes, I think it’s obvious from the above that I’ve not been doing much. A slight misunderstanding with the Housing charity means that I’ve not been getting shifts but that should be reconciled. It was not irreversible. There was a cure.

And some of you will notice a physical difference the next time you see me. That’s all I’m saying. But post Master’s a void has appeared and self-doubt has started to creep in, particularly as I start applying for jobs. Again. Would the year have been better spent doing the housing shifts and looking for work? In many material ways, yes, but so many people believed in me once I’d started I just had to finish. And I’m so glad I did. 🙂

So it has been so nice, not just to get the congrats cards and other messages, but also the people who have spoken to me about the need for me to ‘fill the void’ and in one case said, ‘you’re quiet. I’m worried.’ (anon). I’m fine. But it’s so nice to know you’re out there. Thanks.

I’m taking no sides on the Badger Cull debate but here’s a short snippet from the Save The Badger Badger Badger video……..longer versions are available, courtesy of those bright young things from YouTube.

I just do what I’ve been told; penguin’s bums are always cold (A US Marine…apparently)

September 1, 2013

And so dear listener, it’s done. The Master’s is finished and over and I accept the adulation of the crowds. And, yes, it wasn’t self-deprecation…..I really had my doubts up to the very end but it’s passed and I am Master of something. I used to do a lot in student politics when I was at uny. Previously. I spoke a lot…….a real master debater I was.

That’s really weird….I’ve just realised. My first degree was at Glasgow Uny; my first Post Grad was at what used to be known as Jordanhill College but is now known as ‘another prestigious West End housing development’; and now I have another Post Grad and a Master’s from UWS (Paisley). Bet none of you knew that in the days when I talked about the primary school in Paisley, I was talking about the uny……?

But there is now a void. Those of you who remember the previous void of just over a year ago (June/July) may be apprehensive but worry not. I learn from my experiences (no you don’t – Skippy). I have taken a few days to myself. Lunch with a good friend; a haircut; and a football match – but not all in the one day. I am pacing myself but not walking too fast before I can run…….as they say down the ASDA.

I’m still reading the book I mentioned last week – the Hunger Games – and I don’t feel guilty. Okay, as a counterpoint, I’m doing a big tidy up of the house, but at least the CDs remain in alphabetic order, altho’, tbh, all I’m playing are The Yeah Yeahs and Various Artists. But no, no ZZ Top.

And also last week I mentioned a very lovely Zorastrian Iranian lady who swiftly became a Facebook friend………are you out there, Naomi Campbell, Louise Lear and yes, indeed, Felicity Kendall? 🙂

Anyway I did do a sorting out of some of the books and photocopied articles from the drink’n’drugs course (oh, Michael Gossop you have no idea how many views I attributed to you and ‘Living with Drugs’ and what was I doing with ‘Not to Be Toyed With’: Drug Addiction, Bullying and Self-empowerment in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Journal of Media and Cultural Studies (2002) 19:1 85-101?)

And will I ever stop writing like that? Well, maybe not. I have an idea for a book, but a different one from the last one I wrote. It was very personal and did the rounds of agents and publishers but unfortunately the only publisher who showed interest was made redundant soon after. The library ladies have been warned. 😉

Incidentally, Buffy is not this blog’s Vampire Slayer. Ours is much more effective and attractive. And the Greek Islands are much safer now than they were before (well one is). Just ‘cos.

No, I was reminiscing with Jo the other day and one of my favest memories is/was Monday mornings when many of my mates would have been at their work desks from eight o’clock broking stocks, marketing, lawyering, lecturing and walking the corridors of power. Me? I was having my first coffee of the day with Jo, uni-Sharon and Study Buddie Fi before ambling round to the lecture theatre with the conservatory (perfect for growing certain plants) for what was our first and, technically, penultimate lecture of the day. 🙂

I will miss it but will return from time to time (probably when the new Post Grads arrive. No. No reason.)

Anyway time to move on. Football. When stuck…….And a big annoyance this week was the STV sports reporter who kept referring to Celtic’s group in the European League of Very Profitable Football Matches as being the Group of Death on the day when the House of Commons was debating whether to bomb Syria cos the Syrian government was poisoning other Syrians. Jeez.

And finally, there will be a graduation in mid-November and if the rules allow – which I’m sure they do – me and the Black Watch Tartan may meet again. A wee twirl in the Library foyer – just to let some people see what they’re missing. 😉

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? I actually wore it to Post Grad Induction two years ago and got some strange looks.

Johnt850, a proud part of the Maryhill Army. 🙂 🙂 🙂

So this month’s most asked question of the week has been, ‘am I doing a PhD?’ No. I’m not. I stretched myself academically and I have little left to give down that road. Some folk arrived on the Post Grad with their route maps marked (Honours, Post Grad, Master’s, PhD) and some were spotted quite early on for their potential and asked to consider a Master’s.

I was in neither group. I had a void to fill and a question that was nagging. I have some answers but it is significant that no-one has asked me to consider a PhD. I know my limits (no you don’t – Skippy) No. No limits. 😀

This is/these are the Yeahs Yeahs…….You have Buttons to thank. 😉