Archive for December, 2013

Because maybe You’re gonna be the one that saves me And after all You’re my wonderwall (Oasis but no…no reason)

December 28, 2013

And so dear listener, it’s that time of year again: when women look out their finery, men look out their frippery and Skippy the Invisible Bush Kangaroo looks out the window. To see if the limo has arrived. Yet.

Yes. It’s the Sixth (!) Annual Blog Personality of the Year Award Ceremony. Who would have thought……? I know it’s a nervous time for soooooo many of you who await the results in reverse order wondering whether this time………

Skippy, have you heated up the vols-au-vent in the new Microwave? Have our clothes dried yet on the new clothes airer? Have my graduation photos been distributed? (and if anyone out there wants one, just say). And if there was a Book of the Year Award it would go to Hogan Sinclair for her book ‘The Underclass: A quiet uprising’ available through Amazon but not ASOS (home of the hunky calendar for women) – but I’m not introducing a new category this year, just cos the book’s well worth reading. 🙂

Skippy, let loose the Fanfare of Strumpets.

Let’s get the easy one out of the way:

The Team of the Year Award goes to my colleagues in last year’s (UWS) Paisley Masterclass in Alcohol and Drug Studies and the backroom boys in the lecturers’ offices who are dab hands with the wet sponge. (Younger listeners, please be careful when you Google/Bing ‘wet sponge’). Facebook viewers will have seen the team photo (minus two of the team) but the smashingest bit was that we’d all kinda kept in touch thru various forms of social media but with odd exceptions we’d not met…….the joy when we did was manifest to see……..those going onto PhDs ‘good luck’ (and a slight envy on my part) 🙂

Lifetime Achievement Award goes to me. I’ve thought about it – long and hard (which was one of the blog’s first innuendoes and still one of my faves…….) No. I’ve spoken to a few folk about it and it’s only recently I’ve fully realised what I’ve achieved (with soooooooo much help from sooooooo many people) over the last seven years. I tend to underplay my recovery (from cancer and drink) on the basis that these things are possible for most people but the last six months have been sooooo amazing and made it all so worthwhile. I could easily have gone to various forms of self-help groups and spent the last few years feeling sorry for myself and enjoying being a victim. I didn’t. I have an ego and I have used it. To good intent. Thank you. I have two ambitions for this year; one is a full-time job or similar; close friends know the second (or can guess it).

(Controversial, eh?) 😉

So…to the Personality Award itself (which has only ever been won once by a person)

Can I just say there was a late run of money on my bleach bucket once I’d revealed that I had one but I thought everyone had such a bucket in which you steeped whites in a …oh never mind. Moving swiftly on.

In Third Place is Binky the Rabbit. Not only did Binky’s owner play a small but fun part in my life mid-year but we had to take Binky to the vet in Linwood on two Sundays. Both times we turned up for our appointment on time but on the second Sunday we had to wait. The vet had an emergency on his hands. It was a dog that was the only friend and companion of an old man. The dog died. Not everything is under our control. No matter how much we try to take control. We gotta roll with it. I plan to keep rolling……Hope you’re okay, Binky. 🙂

In Second Place is the phrase ‘No. No really.’ In the early days of this show one of the best known phrases was ‘No. No reason.’ The rainforestriverman loved it. This has replaced it. For all sorts of reasons. This is not the place to divulge the question that prompted this answer nor the circumstances but those to whom I told the story swiftly divided themselves into two camps; those with a romantic bent and some imagination appreciated the wistfulness and thought that had gone into it; those without such a bent and imagination had obviously worried that Brief Encounter’s Trevor Howard might miss his train. Sometimes there is no further point in rolling other than sheer bloody enjoyment. I plan to keep rolling 🙂

And finally, (and Skippy tell those strumpets to do the full fanfare) the 2013 Personality of the Year Award goes to:

The Black Watch Tartan.

I had never worn a kilt until this year. Most family tartans were invented by the Sobieski-Stuarts to make a profit; they were worn at Highland Gatherings where the poor underlings of the laird had to entertain him/her and his/her guests; or they were worn without a true understanding of the history of the tartan and the part Walter Scott had played in our subjugation.

Until this year.

I wore the full Highland dress with the Black Watch Tartan to Son Brian and the lovely KT’s wedding in June this year and I wore it to my own graduation in November; and if I could have worn it to help Son Brian and KT move into their new home this weekend, I would have done so. I thoroughly enjoyed wearing it. I was happy and proud to do so at both events and was happy wearing black with black socks. I would hate to be a Rupert the Bear……

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Black Watch Tartan 🙂

As I said earlier it has been an amazing six months. 🙂

I’ll stop there. The keyboard’s kinda damp. There is a long walk to be had. Skippy load up the MP3 player.

Have a great New Year….and do I plan to change my ways in the months ahead? No. No really. I’ll just keep rolling.

Cya, keep(ing) it fun, and still wearing the badge? Yes.

Johnt850. Morning, Glory.

And does your granny always tell you all the old songs were the best……?

December 21, 2013

Rather ironic given how often Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ gets played over the festive period…..but, given that soooo many Christmas records recently have been X factor winners, there are few coming to take its place.

Anyway let’s not think too long and hard about these things. This is the very special, and much awaited, Christmas Cracker Edition of the programme and Skippy and I have been combing the world (or the Daily Telegraph website) for some of the best. 🙂

Some amongst you will turn your noses up but I guarantee you will be using them yourselves over this festive time. :p

Q Why does no-one bid for Rudolph and Blitzen on eBay?

A Because they are two deer………

And so some news about the Vampire Slayer. Her work seemingly done, she has announced her intent to travel abroad and save other people elsewhere and we wish her good luck and all our best. But her final words filled me with dread. She has seen the Evil One…hopefully just passing through. News like this I will not dwell on. Skippy, fire up the next gag.

Q What does Miley Cyrus have at Christmas?

A Twerky

But I have lapsed. No. Not alcohol. Altho’ it did come in the form of a six-pack. As you know I have been a lifelong pescetarian for well over three and a half years and eschew (great word) anything that is not fish or veg including wine gums and certain mints (gelatin bovine)…..well this week I bought, by mistake, Walker’s Deep Ridged Flame Grilled Steak crisps. And I ate them. Get thee behind me, Lineker.

Q What does the Queen call her Christmas Broadcast?

A The One Show

I also made a mistake by adding cream instead of yogurt to ASDA own label muesli…….nice mistake……Skippy lapped it up as well. 😀

Q Why can’t you wash up at Christmas?

A Because the Fairy is on top of the tree.

Nice also to see during the week various ppl at Paisley Uny (wistful pause) including the man who helped so much with my Masterful dissertation who said there was no academic reason why I couldn’t do a PhD (academically) but expressed serious concern for the mental health of my possible supervisor. Some thinking may be thought but whilst talking to the very svelte uni-Sharon, I did admit I miss what I would describe as focussed reading…..mmmmmm……

See that Mary and Joseph…now they had a stable relationship.

And Missie K asked a very good question the other day. What kinda music did I listen to when I was, well, drinking? And tbh, I’m not really too sure but the MP3 player I found with no idea where it came from a couple of years after I cold-turkeyed has the Wu-Tung Clan on it……and, dear listener, I was taking my turn at a Hole-in-the Wall cash machine when I found myself singing their lyrics out loud….not a good move. Skippy was mortified. 😦

Q Why don’t you see Father Christmas in a hospital?

A Because he has private elf care.

Elsewhere I thought the two drugs mules in Peru could do with a Herbalife* weight loss plan but their nails were looking good; this month’s Favourite Sign of the Week was ‘Floor slippery when wet (obviously)’ ; and I hope you all have a very, very, merry Christmas. I caught up with a few folk in the last few days but with some others it will now need to be New Year – there are shifts to be worked

*other weight loss plans are available but Herbalife is the only one where I know a distributor.

And I like sending Christmas cards. To people’s home addresses if possible. People seem to get such a pleasant surprise when it happens. I even got texts saying thanks. For me it’s a way of saying I am still alive. And saying thanks to people who’ve helped me this year and with whom I many never have contact again. You can’t say that if you don’t send cards but ‘give to charity’ instead. Mine are from Cancer Research UK. I give them free publicity.

Q What did Father Christmas do when he went speed dating?

A He pulled a cracker.

And don’t forget next week’s Blog Personality of the Year Award…there’s still time for nominations and you don’t need to register and neither of Louis Walsh’s two faces are involved……however much he may have got carried away with the emulsion of it all.

And finally, my own favourite;

Q Why is it getting harder to buy Advent calendars?

A Because their days are numbered.

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? I’ve left it at home recently it’s too wet.

Johnt850, quietly pleased with himself and quite proud but never, ever arrogant. Hopefully.

And one serious moment if I may.

Sean Devenney of Clydebank admitted last week, in Perth Sheriff Court, to three charges of sex assault and one of an indecent act at T in the Park last year. The charges were found Not Proven. He claimed he was not responsible for his actions because he was under the influence of drugs (eccies) given to him by a complete stranger as he entered Balado.

The jury agreed with him. Hopefully this jury was an aberration and we are not returning to the bad old days of solicitors pleading ‘it wasn’t my client, m’lud…it was the drink’.

As we enter the time of year when drink (the deadliest of all the drugs) is consumed in vast quantities (often by rank amateurs) please stay safe out there. And stay responsible. In the correct and proper sense.

Here’s some Christmas cheer from the Waitresses. Does anyone know why these hyper-links are so long?

Every human action acquires a meaning when it is performed as a service (Mahatma Gandhi)

December 14, 2013

And so dear listeners, after the events of the last few weeks, the blog settles down to what it’s best at – mediocrity and mundaneness.

This week I bought a clothes horse/airer from Argos and erected it myself. Dead proud. 🙂

But I also needed a new printer. Now I know there are companies like Appliances Online which come highly recommended but I like PC World/Curry’s – just down the road there. Why? Because they’re just down the road there. In Anniesland.

So I went there on Tuesday and had a look; said to the young female assistant, ‘don’t you stock Kodaks anymore?’ ‘No’, she said. ‘That’s a nice looking Epsom’, I said. ‘It’s not in stock’, she said. I left. No. No sale. 😦

The next day I was in West Dunbartonshire. I went into the PC World/Curry’s in the Drumchapel Retail Park and was met at the door by a nice young female assistant called, according to her badge, ‘Marjorie training’ – altho’ I suspect that’s not really her surname. I said, ‘black printer…bout 60-70.’ She said, ‘this way.’ And I think dear listener that was about the extent of her knowledge BUT we narrowed ‘our’ selection down to two – based on looks.

I then asked the tekkie question; ‘how do you put the ink in?’ She said ‘I don’t know. Let’s find out.’

So we prodded. One of them she described (kinda) as ‘a bit of a nightmare to get into’. So I bought the other one. Marjorie training had made the whole thing a fun experience………enthusiasm counts for a lot. 🙂

No, it’s not up and running yet. I’ve reached the bit in the installation where my son gets offered his tea.

And now for the second and last in our short series: South African Leaders I Have Never Met:

Years ago I worked for BBC Scotland’s Religious Broadcasting…even presented church services on radio…..and one Sunday afternoon, having done my stuff in the morning, I was working in the garden when my then wife came out.

‘jt, there’s a Bishop Desmond Tutu on the phone for you.’

He’s too bloody late for this week’s show, I thought. ‘Tell him, I’ll phone him later.’ And never did.

So I watched the Mandela Big Day Out (Michelle Obama ostentatiously swopping seats with Barack after the selfies) and I spotted Bono and thought, ‘ffs, I hope he doesn’t start clicking his fingers.’

And I saw the hard-of-hearing signer and knew he wasn’t doing it right. All of us who watch the Sign Zone regularly on BBC-2 at half past one in the morning know that you do the tic-tac a lot quicker than that. Still he saw Angels. Seven years ago this week I saw The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and a whole lot more as I cold-turkeyed and look where I am today. 🙂

The last few years I’ve put up the anniversary on Facebook as a thank you and was always surprised at the number of likes and comments I got. Last year I think I done it for self-gratification. So I’ve stopped. Basically I don’t drink and hopefully never will again. Instead I go for walks, play music and make soup.

(But keep an eye on the Personality of the Year Awards in a fortnight’s time)

But I do pubs, etc, with my fresh orange. Last week it was a smashing time in Waxy’s with Anne and Jo from the Master’s class; this week it was the Hard Rock café with Missie K. 🙂

And finally, this story ‘bout the Queen getting so annoyed ‘bout her police people nibbling her nuts that she started to mark round the sides of the bowls to see if levels dropped? I would never ever eat nuts, etc, that were left out communally. You do not know whose hands were there before yours. Have you watched men wipe their hands on their trousers as they come out of the toilet? There’s a wee thought for you ahead of the Christmas party season.

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? Yes, but can you remember what it says?

Johnt850, ‘cool’ and a ‘ledge’ according to Carmen – so it’s official (lol).

Aye, the party season.

Twenty-five years ago (round about now) the BBC Audio Unit Party (a big event paid for by unused bits of budget here and there scraped together from the bottom of a BBC barrel) was about to begin when news came in of a plane crash in the Lockerbie area and folk either grabbed outside broadcast vehicles and radio cars and reporters and headed south or started manning phones…..

I was at another function that night and didn’t hear until ‘bout 11. I immediately phoned in and was told I wasn’t needed BUT to go in ‘bout 7 and look after the non-News side of things; brief presenters on what they could and couldn’t say; check record running orders for records referring to flying; and liaise between the Newsroom and the rest of the coverage.

And then when the team came home that evening (cos the initial story was over almost immediately – there were no survivors) I bought a lot of drinks (with unused bits of budget). There was a lot of singing went on that night in Room 211 in Broadcasting House – a wee bit like the Mandela Big Day Out but unlike it, all the stories remain in that room……with the angels.

So here’s the Lumineers to cheer us up. Where’s the Lumineers? Under the lumin’ hat.

‘…and when the snow comes to hide the sins of man you’ll find in this winter wonderland a refuge’ (John McGarrigle, a victim of the Glasgow Helicopter Crash)

December 6, 2013

John was described in the media as ‘a poet and writer’ but I’d not seen any of his work in the papers. I knew I’d some of his stuff somewhere so I looked it out…just in case anyone thought he was an ‘unpublished’ poet and writer.

I think he did some stuff with a writers’ group in Castlemilk. I did some stuff a long time ago with a group out that way who were setting up their own local radio station – he may have been one of them.

Things like that are good to encourage people to share experience of writing and broadcasting – to have guest speakers who can help and so on. I went to some stuff organised by the Scottish Screenwriters. I spent some time talking to Eddie Harrison ( ) …..he didn’t buy my 10 minute screenplay tho’…wonder what memory stick it’s on. But what an experience.

Remember also a conversation there one night when someone expressed surprise that so-and-so had a commission from the BBC: ‘Who’s she sleeping wi’?’ And was given the name. Not that I’m suggesting…….. 😉

But there is an art to all sorts of writing. I caught, on ITV More 17 + 1 or similar, a programme about Morecambe and Wise which was brilliant. It wasn’t just another re-run of their best sketches but explained a lot of the reasons as to why they did certain things e.g. they were not happy in a TV studio so they put in a stage and curtains and suddenly they were back in the days of the music hall…and no way were they going to do that ‘two men in a bed’ sketch until it was explained to them that Laurel and Hardy had once done one…… 😀

Younger listeners may want to Google some of the above.

You can’t write in a vacuum. People like John McGarrigle prove that.

So the tone of the blog has been heavy this last two weeks but in two weeks’ time we have the Christmas Special and after that it’s the annual awards ceremony. Skippy is currently taking nominations for the three categories of Personality of the Year; Team of the Year; and Lifetime Achievement Award. Nominations, please, to Skippy at the usual address.

So moving to light before getting heavy again…..

Actually one light out of heavy moment. The last three nights I’ve been burning a candle in my porch. One of my neighbours muttered something about ‘memories’ and ‘condolences’ and it took me a minute or two before I realised. When do you think I should tell her that I was trying to get rid of the smell of fish?

(Always remember this guy coming to my house looking for work, so I asked him to paint the porch round the back. He came back thirty minutes later and said, ‘that’s it done and, by the way, that’s no’ a Porsche; it’s an Aston Martin.’……….

That’s obviously not a true story ‘cos I don’t have a porch round the back.)

And my favest denims – the ripped bleached ones that I got out of the charity shop? They’ve got a spot of black paint on them. They’re ruined!!

Actually that sounded a bit camp didn’t it? Never liked that strange coffee essence stuff with the photo of the Major and his servant. 😦

(Oh and on Thursday this week I quietly acknowledge seven years of sobriety)

And finally all that comes in a week when I bought a new fridge-freezer. The old one was boggin’. It’s not as big as the old one but size isn’t everything. In a fridge-freezer. My mistake has been in watching Masterchef; the Professionals. Which is awful. The judges don’t actually talk to each other. They say snidey pieces-to-the-side-of-the-camera. And what is ‘perfect seasoning’? And what is wrong with vanilla pods?

But I will buy more fresh food cos I can’t rely on freezer food now quite as much. And on the subject of celebrity chefs…….

Dear Nigella, I know large/obese/fat cocaine users. We all do. Don’t stereotype people.

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? Yup. It’s back on.

Johnt850 – ‘from wired to tired’

R.I.P. Nelson Mandela

Unlike a lot of people who posted on Facebook, I’d never met you, Nelson, so didn’t know you that well but you did play a big part in my recovery from prostate cancer.

About three and a half years I was interviewed live on STV’s The Hour on the subject of (what else but?) prostate cancer. Towards the end of the three minutes 40 seconds (still available in Googleland) Stephen Jardine said; ‘Nelson Mandela, Robert do Niro and Johnt850 – three men with one thing in common. You’ve all survived prostate cancer.’

I can’t think of that without a slight tear in the eye.

John Cavanagh suggested this piece of music. It’s Dick Gaughan and Amndla!

Nobody expects on a Friday night for a helicopter to crash on top of a pub (Alistair Hay, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service)

December 1, 2013

And so dear listener, there is not much I’m going to say today.

There is a sadness hanging over my adopted home city. There’s not much I can say.

Obviously I had things I was going to write about including post-graduation stuff, the assault course I was supposed to be going on and why it didn’t happen and so on but today they’re not relevant.

Yes, I do write about death and similar but the deaths caused by substance abuse and cancer tend to be slow – other than those that happen as a result of cold turkey. The deaths the other night (including the people on the helicopter) were sudden and unexpected and in a manner we have known, I think, only once before in Glasgow – a city which is not unused to sudden deaths.

The way in which I heard the news was not unusual these days. I woke just after seven, looked at my phone and deleted the Groupon messages and so on and noticed activity on Facebook…….this was people talking about the incident. I immediately switched on BBC Radio Scotland and got……a pre-recorded programme about the outdoors. Why was it not dropped and replaced by a live programme?…….questions can be asked later but the fact was that I went downstairs and switched on the BBC News Channel controlled by London and saw BBC Scotland news people doing a smashing job. It’s a difficult moment for journalists because the basic story has been and gone and all you can do is re-tell and react.

I think I’ve now gone off the notion of a Scottish Broadcasting Service…….maybe some people at Pacific Quay can only get aroused when it’s the Commonwealth Games……anyway….I’m told coverage improved later. Laura Vickers and Aileen Clarke and their production teams played a blinder.

I was impressed at the quality of interviewee and their participation in the rescue; Jim Murphy being asked about blood on his shirt; a retired fireworker helping his colleagues to get in; the rescued who came back the next day to find friends; the pub manager who switched off the gas; the stories not just of survival but of helping others to survive; and the quiet but truly emotional words from the various political leaders and the rescue services.

Neither the Clutha nor the Scotia were pubs I frequented but they are both important in the folklore, history and legend that is Glasgow.

One may be no more. It is a sad day for Glasgow but one from which hope springs eternal. There may be more in the form of a legacy from this horrible event than there is from any other event happening next year.

Let Glasgow Flourish by the Teaching of Thy Word