Archive for January, 2014

It is the Chinese Year of the Horse – a time of energy and renewal (Me)

January 31, 2014

And so, dear listener, it’s been a difficult week. I, literally, have found it very difficult to keep in touch with the days. It is not old age setting in; I am, after all, only 42 and will remain so for the rest of my life. 🙂

I have, at times, not known what day it is and that I blame on my socks. And events.

Let me explain. Night shifts at the projects where I work (paid) with some people who have recently experienced homelessness are obviously overnight but…say you go in on Saturday 1st Feb at 8 pm you are obvs there until the next morning, Sun, 2nd Feb. However, everything you write down remains in the log as 1st Feb even when it’s 7.45 am on the 2nd and you’re about to go home. Do that over two nights with a lot of sleep on the day in between and you begin to catch my drift.

Add into that the fact that, until this week, the other (vol) work that I do down in a drug rehab project in Dunbartonshire was on a Friday but for a range of reasons it was suggested that Thursday might suit me as a wee bit of a change. So I went down on Thursday, only for it to be suggested that Wednesday might suit better. So Wednesdays it is, but a regular time has still to be confirmed.

And speaking of time, (see what I did there?) my fabulous Casio watch (and one day I will learn to swim properly so that I can test it down to 50 metres) was unable to deal with the Leap Year of two years ago and the displayed date – but not the day- is the one in front. 😦

And a lot of the editing I do ( ) has a lot of Chinese students (my spam mail is almost entirely Mandarin) who actually contact me from China. Early mornings.

But, and it’s a big butt, what usually helps is that my coloured-toes-and-heels socks from M & S have the days of the week on them. That usually keeps me in touch with reality. However the big toe has gone in some of them and when I went to M & S to get new socks on, em, eh, whatever day, I discovered they no longer sold them. So I just got some ordinary coloured-toes-and-heels socks from there. I also get underwear from there but they don’t sell what I wear in the stores. I have to buy it online.

So I am a bit all over the place. I am restless; I am not settled. Not getting that job was disappointing and I will keep looking. But this has become a time for reflection and taking stock. Not in a heavy way. 2013 was a good year and there has been a slight dip. So I need suggestions; I need pushing; I need to get out more.

This is not a ‘feeling-sorry-for-myself’ moment but a request for suggestions about meeting up with people – ranging from the millions of people I know to any other suggestions for a blind-date (the last one was not a disaster; events conspired) – to going with folk to an event to being a roadie again. 🙂 I am open. To offers. No. Really.

Are there educational or potential work opportunities that I’m missing? There was to have been a master’s night out this week but it got cancelled; it will happen soon time again. All offers/thought/ideas considered. Do it thru this blog – see bit at bottom for comments; do it by text; by facebook message; by facebook public comment or arrange to meet to suggest ideas. I’d even consider getting my hair cut short if the person making that suggestion were to come with me to Sandra my hairdresser.

I have no water-cooler on a daily basis to share these things. I am very open-minded (and read nothing into that that you wouldn’t think yourself). The ball is in your court where the chips now lie. In fact, you may know/bump into people I knew in the period BCT (Before Cold Turkey) or ACT (you can work that one out yourself). Tell them I’m here and asking after them…….It could be uny, college, BBC or anywhere in Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire or Germany (sorry, a wee memory just trickled by) but not Malta. No. No reason.

(and I’ll tell you more about how the Vampire Slayer is doing soon time but she seems fine. Skippy seems to get the messages)

And finally, my masterful mate Kerry, raised a very interesting point recently and that is the number of the Lollipop People who do their lollipopping at Green Man traffic lights. Why? If a child is too young to understand what these traffic lights mean in terms of crossing the road, then they’re too young to be out on their own; and if an adult plus child needs help in crossing the road at these lights, then the adult shouldn’t be anywhere near traffic. As Kerry says, they used be heroes and icons…….

Cya (keep)ing it fun and still wearing that badge? Yes. Some things stay permanent.

Johnt850, away to do a lot of thinking – maybe even a weekend retreat?

This is my fellow Paisley Graduate (honorary), Paulo Nutini, with a not quite exclusive from his soon-to-be-out album and of course Radio 1’s Big Weekend is coming to Glasgow this May….there are hyperlinks to be linked into;

There are no favourites in my office. I treat them all with the same general inconsideration (President Lyndon Baines Johnson)

January 24, 2014

And so dear listener, I didn’t get the job I’d applied for; that I felt was destined for me; and that I’d researched so well. I felt I did a great presentation (maybe a touch too theatrical at times) but it was not to be. I allowed myself to wallow for all of two hours and then I applied for another one. 🙂

This one that I’ve applied for, I am convinced, is destined for me; that I will research properly again; and I will do a smashing presentation. I just happen to be enthusiastic about recovery.

It’s life but not as we know it; which is a line which originally came from ‘Thunderbirds – The Movie’ on the Expedition to Mars – and not ‘Star Trek’ as many believe. :p

Or as Jake Bugg almost puts it – ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’

But I was down in West Dunbartonshire, as I often am on Friday mornings, and I had a very enjoyable and dry Burns lunch…….(don’t get me started on the apostrophe…..) with, for me and another worker, veggie haggis……it’s not quite the same but, like a lot of veggie alternatives, a wee bit of seasoning and it tastes smashing.

(I know I doodle with a dating site but I could never have a relationship with an apostrophe – they are sooooo possessive)*

Speaking of possession, I once did have an idea for a novel about a floating vessel (say a cruise ship) populated solely by a horde of killer bees (or cannibal rats) But now that’s actually happening;

I’m sure every idea-less novelist will be seizing it. 😦

On the other hand, Jeffery Archer, who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting twice, is a damn fine and excellent fellow with lots of jolly original ideas. 🙂

(Skippy! Wtf have you been lacing my ASDA isotonic drink with?)

(*stolen from Private Eye)

But I notice that Edward Snowden is going to be amongst the candidates for the Rectorship of Glasgow Universities……..Oh, the happy days when we got Arthur Montford elected to that position. My hair was long in those days. No. Really long. (Wee variation there on the ‘No. No really.’ line)

And I had need to go see Dr Fi (a medical doctor and not to be confused with any other Fi) the other day. What is nice ‘bout her (‘mongst many other things) is the way I was greeted with ‘How did the graduation go?’ So we chatted about that (I only had need to wipe my eyes once) and then we cut to the chase………she is booking me in for a renal scan……I will keep you posted. 😉

And finally, I had another car incident this week. Okay……yet another car incident…….I was driving home from a night shift in Clydebank. And it was dark at 7.15 am and as you go up Alderman Road there are lots of wee traffic island things with bollards on top that are filter lanes for bikes. There is, however one where the bollard is not only broken but the shards still exist on the island so that if you drive over it cos you don’t see it cos the bollard is not working…….then you rip the f**k out of both your nearside tyres. A claim, complete with pix, has gone in to the Chief Executive of Glasgow City Council for the tyres that I had to get there and then.

And do you know what was really annoying? (Well you won’t until I tell you). Everyone involved kept asking me if I’d be late for work. Aaaaaaargh! I just wanted home to my bed!!!!!!!! 😦

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? Yeah, but you can’t see it for my long hair.

Johnt850 for whom it’s no longer Mr Nice Guy!!!!!!

And so, many years ago, I was kinda ‘teaching’ (I shared knowledge with the students) at a college in the city centre and the lecturer – who was later to bad mouth me (with one other) as ‘scum’ cos I’d an alcohol problem – took me to a meeting in Stirling of some kinda association of media studies teachers. And I realised that they knew little about the real media but they all wanted to be part of Glasgow University’s Media Unit and pontificate on the media (Bear with me – there’s a point to this….).

Media Studies should be about how TV and radio and newspapers are put together and where stories come from and how often the news agenda is dictated by the availability of interviewees or a ‘live’ line to London going down (I can bore for Scotland with stories about the problems associated with live broadcasting)

It would involve at least one legal day – even more important with the advent of social media – and particularly relevant with the tragic death of young Mikaeel Kular.

It would emphasise the difference (in Scots law) between being detained, arrested and charged; it would emphasise that once charges are brought in a criminal case, no public comment can be made about it; and it would emphasise the need for proof in court or tribunal. Even using the word ‘allegedly’ must be substantiated by, at least, saying who is making the allegations and where.

This was why I never made any complaints about the lecturer and his line manager – I have no proof that they claimed that alcoholics (always used in the third person) were scum and couldn’t be trusted. There were no witnesses. No corroboration. It’s how sex pests and office bullies exist.

On a happier note this is a song I first heard on the great John Peel’s show. It’s spiritual. You may even have sung it in your church or chapel and if not – why not?

Hey, ref…he’s caressing you! Are you going to let him away with that? (Me at the 1-1 draw against Kilmarnock)

January 18, 2014

And so dear listener, it has been a busy week and, yes, I did have a job interview amongst other things. My biggest worry was that I was colourly unco-ordinated in many shades of black (Jack White reference) but what was actually picked up on was that I was wearing brown shoes……but, yes, if I don’t get this one I will keep knocking on doors but I think some updated shopping is required for my smart but casual/interviews’r’us wardrobe – which is actually the same as the t-shirt and jeans wardrobe.

I did an okay interview (and thanks, e, for your help with the Powerpoint presentation) and it was the first time I have felt comfortable with competency based framework questioning because I felt those interviewing me were comfortable with it as well. I had to use a Smart-board for the presentation and even tho’ I was only tapping on it to move my slides forward, I can never use without one thinking I am Grissom or the ginger-haired one in Miami. 🙂

How do they do it from one sliver of paint that they never noticed on their first visit to the crime scene?

(and a quick word to my friend Becky – the Miss Marples of North London – maybe you should get one to keep a note on all the comings and goings across the road. Does she have a back door?)

Moving swiftly on……….

And I was in court the other day to be called as a witness –same garb but different shirt. And underwear. And socks. But no slasher hat. 😦

It was something that had happened in one of the projects where I work where a young man had had too much of some substance or other and left the building with ‘some persuasion’….(where’s David Nutt when you need him?) The police were called (999) and arrived forty minutes later and took him away.

We were not called as witnesses because he pled(sp) Guilty and will be sentenced in six months’ time depending on his behaviour – a good result for everyone. So we went for coffee. Isn’t it interesting who you meet in these places? Why, one of my former lecturers……I’m not sure why he was there but I can guess. I did try to read the sheet of paper in front of him but my newsagent reading skills seem to have left me. 😦

And Kirsty Young is a lovely person. Not only did I know her but I danced with her. Once. 😀

And it’s time for This Week’s Reason Why I’m Poor. I mentioned to someone that I needed to pop in to B & Q for some masking tape and she said, ‘That’s quite a trip to B & Q for just masking tape.’

To which I replied, ‘Aye. I’ll maybe buy some other stuff when I’m there as well.’

‘Do you need anything else?’……’No. No really.’

I should stress that there are other D-IY stores available but I won’t in the hopes that B & Q send me a voucher. 😉

And wasn’t it good to see Vic and Bob back? The wee DVD sequence was soooooo much funnier than anything I have ever seen in short bursts of Mrs Brown’s boys……I will watch it soon time again on BBC iPlayer……

And finally, maybe I’m getting old (I’m not) but in my day legendary numbers attached to football shirts were Numbers 7 (Clydebank’s Davey Cooper), 9 (Clydebank’s Ken Eadie) and 10 (Pele, Eusebio and Law). Now we have the legendary Number 25 at Celtic for the world famous Stefan Johnesen. What next? The legendary Number 23? Kalum Higginbotham of Partick Thistle? Actually, now there’s a player. 🙂

Cya, (keep)ing it fun and still wearing that badge? Not to court. No.

Johnt850…..Doo doooo d’doo doo…thanks for your help with the spelling, blogmeister.

So recovery has been very much on the menu this week and my thoughts that addiction is not a disease are not new-fangled; they go back to the Sixties at the very least (Davies D L 1962). It is a pleasurable habit that can lead to dependency and the need to prevent withdrawal by taking in more of the substance; in my case ASDA own label whisky. Well supported work can help make the necessary changes in behaviour leading to recovery (cf me)

Anyway I have spoken many many times of how going to watch Partick Thistle has been a major part of my recovery in that a brilliant bunch of guys did not stereotype me; allowed me to go drinking with them as long as I stuck to something soft; and gave me an additional interest – the football – not the guys.

It was almost too much too soon. It was Craig who reminded me of this last week as we endured a three-three draw.

Some time back, there had been a game down south in Dumfries and I was going – not in the train with the rest of them cos much drink might be consumed – but by car with Eric the Floodstalker ‘cos he was covering the game journalistically. But I was to meet the crew in a pub near the ground.

When I got there, they were out the back in the courtyard – the no-smoking area with all the empty beer barrels. They were having a whisky tasting contest. According to Craig, my face was a picture – contorting through every emotion known to man…..or woman. I looked for help but David Nutt was nowhere to be seen……

After a thankfully short contest, we left. I had come through one of the biggest tests of all. I had not lapsed as some had expected altho’ I was tempted. And we moved on…….. 🙂

The danger with calling people ‘addicts’ and talking of ‘addiction’ is that there is a danger that we reinforce stereotypes and give people little encouragement to change. Calling it a serious problem and people might just be tempted to come forward for help.

I think I’ve solved the mega-hyper-link problem. Here’s Jack white and the Raconteurs and Many Shades of Black

Catch a cannon ball now to take me down the line, My bag is sinkin’ low and I do believe it’s time, To get back to Miss Fanny, you know she’s the only one, Who sent me here with her regards for everyone (The Band)

January 11, 2014

And so dear listener, it’s been the week when broadcasters talk about ‘the world returning to work’ totally ignoring the fact that they, and many, many others, have been working all the way through the holiday so that we can buy bread, care for others and, yes indeed, watch TV. I was one of those but only in my relief housing support worker kinda way – around about Christmas – and then in my self-employed editing kinda way up to and through the New Year. It paid.

But it wasn’t all bad. Sometimes I paint a picture of the housing support work that isn’t always good – but without giving anything away that is confidential, sometimes you do have to unlock doors without knowing what is on the other side. And there have been a couple of occasions where I have been glad that my co-worker has been watching my back for me. But nothing too serious. Although I do have a court appearance, as a witness, coming up this week….

But, as I say, it wasn’t all bad. One of the projects has a number of asylum seekers and refugees and they’re here learning English and wanting to work and update qualifications. One of them was cooking some food for herself and some of her fellow residents and brought some through for me and my co-worker. Basically it was a Sudanese pudding and very ‘filling’ it was…..but often it’s the thought that counts. And it was appreciated.

And there’s other good stories from there and other places where I work. 😀

I mention this because of the furore over Benefits Street – a programme which looks at the lifestyle of a number of people in a street in Birmingham. It was interesting because, at the same time, there was a lot in the press about the anticipated return of a programme which looked at the lifestyle of one family in a part of London who worked without declaring, who had a range of money-making schemes, who spent a large part of their lives in the pub and who poured scorn on those who tried to earn money legitimately. As one of them put it – ‘why do only fools and horses work?’

(Rant warning – there may be another couple later in the prog… fact, as today is being pre-recorded I will stop just now and walk away for a wee while……I’m not sure why I’m in a mood. Uni-mate Jo was in touch about a couple of things today and I said I felt that I was chasing my head and hoped to find it when I got home….maybe tomorrow I will)

Right, Skippy, I’m back…what I’ll do is a kinda gratitude list where you look at the good things that have happened (not that anything seriously bad has….)

The Vampire Slayer has arrived in Italy (did I say Milan last week?…obvs to throw you off the trail) and has established cover at a very high level…… 😉 and for the first time in some time I, with e, aj and rj visited the Art Galleries, and children and people recovering from substance use issues (my last visit) do ask questions that some of us ignore 😉 and Son Brian never ceases to amaze me cos he told me that his hard drive on his laptop had died but using some very pink cable he has been able to hook up the e-notebook on which I wrote my (sadly unpublished book) to the laptop and has a functioning PC 😉 and I thought my washing machine was leaking but a very nice man from AS Electrics (St George’s Cross) came over and reassured me it wasn’t 😉 and Partick Thistle only need a few home wins to be back in with a chance of Europe 😉 and all credit to the St Mirren Board for not jettisoning Paul McGowan who obviously has drink issues but they’re willing to work with him 

(Incidentally they were meant to be semi-colons 😦 )

And finally, the Christmas tree is down and I miss switching on the lights in the morning so maybe it’s that that’s put me in a weird mood or maybe it’s the amount of pleasurable chocolate I’m eating. 😦

See below…….

Cya (keep)ing it fun and still wearing that badge? Yup and I hope it brings me luck later this week

Johnt850- ‘oh so celeb’…

So, rantishly, let’s talk about sugar. 🙂

Regular listeners will know that I have a thing about sugar as being potentially more dangerous and deadlier than any other white powder we get concerned about. Most cocaine deaths occur cos of the fight to gain control over a profitable and illegal business. Selling sugar is totally legal despite its health risks and is sold legally by dealers in cake and similar products like Greggs, Bradfords, ASDA and Morrisons…..mmmmm, particularly on the counters of bakers with those four-for-a-pound tasty treats….mmmmmm

(Remember the Christopher Morris spoof where prominent celebs were told of the new dangerous drug on the streets called ‘Cake’ and how they all condemned it without realising it didn’t exist?)

And now boffins in white coats agree with me (altho’ I think they have more scientific evidence than me) Amongst the dangerous products they have highlighted are Dr Pepper, Lucozade and a 100g Go Ahead Yogurt Break bar…sounds healthy but with the equivalent of ten teaspoons of sugar….the problems associated with alcohol are well known, especially in the demand made on health services. How long before the same strains are put on the health service by people with a sugar dependency showing it by their size and their clogged up arteries.

And at this point I feel I must say that I do know people (esp one good friend) who have recognised the problem and are doing something about it, but what are you doing about it?

Coming next week; Why Angry Birds has been replaced by Candy Crush as another big ‘addictive’ issue and I’m sorry, BBC Radio Scotland, but an otherwise excellent programme on Addiction, was spoiled by the ‘shopaholic’ woman. She uses the term ‘addiction’ as an excuse/cover for her behaviour……..oh, for a live topical discussion programme in which her views could have been put up against saxophone-playing Emeritus Professor John Davies….the author of The Myth of Addiction, quoted muchly in a recent Masterful dissertation on the subject……(MINE!)

Skippy, get me off this machine, before I tell the truth about…………

Here’s the Arctic Monkeys (and just a reply to some of my messages (from some people – in any state) would be enuff) (wistful icon)…..those that do know it’s not you 🙂

Let’s paint the town We’ll shut it down Let’s burn the roof And then we’ll do it again (Black Eyed Peas)

January 3, 2014

And a Good New Year to all my Chinese listeners when it comes (31st Jan and it’s the Year of the Horse, since you ask) which doesn’t explain all those fireworks we saw on TV from Shanghai on 31st December. :-S

Me? Quiet. A lot of housing project night and backshifts and then when things were getting quiet, a lot of students realised that if they needed to get essays to tutors before Monday, 6th then they had to get them to me last week……profitable but it did mean I missed yet another PT game when they played well but (every final third of the pitch cliché you can think of….) 😦

Oh, and if you know anyone who needs it then might be of help.

So I did see some TV. The last few years I’ve spent Hogmanay at a big house in Bearsden (I don’t know where the people who live there spend theirs but….) and it’s been on the background. But I’ve not watched it. I’ll pass on Only An Excuse as I still know too many people who work on it…….but the BBC TV Hogmanay prog died for me the moment Jackie Bird talked about getting the party off to a great start and handed over to the Bathgate and Uphall Pipe Band who opened with a dirge……It was crying out for something like The Hen’s March to the Midden if it has to be that kinda music if anything…. (I used to know Phil Cunningham and his orig band Silly Wizard – they’d have killed that and made it their own and some hairstyles will never go out of fashion):)

I saw some other TV and realise now that when my parents told me that they’d once taken my alter ego to see Roy Rogers, they never told me Trigger was in town as well. 😦

Another disappointing TV prog which was made, I think, for a UK audience about old Glasgow variety theatre, concentrated on Danny Kaye and Des O’Connor without a single mention of Lex McLean, Chic Murray or the amazing Jimmy Logan – ‘the man who bankrupted himself for variety’ (thanks for the line Siobhan)

I once had the great pleasure of producing Jimmy for a series of programmes (I am not name-dropping. Stick with me) and was invited across to his big flat in the Southside of Glasgow to meet and discuss scripts and guests, etc… amazing room we sat in with memorabilia packed (Star Wars Speak has just crept in) and I had the pleasure of meeting his then wife, Pamela, and the twins he thought were his…….men don’t have a monopoly on being bastards you know…….we (generic-ish) can hurt as well.

Moving swiftly on.

Let’s do revolutions…..

I don’t actually do any because ‘assessment is a two-way and continual process’ (I have a job interview coming up) and my hope is for something with at least regular hours or a shift pattern and I was watching some TV news (on online dating for the over-fifties…No. No reason) and I did hear the reporter say one reason that people of this age group are confident in looking for love at this stage in their lives is that they have ‘established careers’. Either I have still to reach 50 or I am a failure (42 and staying there).

And many people know that I am registered with a dating site (Plenty of Fish) and am a regular user….all of two cups of coffee last year….but they have introduced a new algorithm which is supposed to help me meet someone with whom I am compatible and may wish to contact.

‘Dear Plenty of Fish, have you any idea how freaking far freaking Alness is from freaking Summerston? I’d be easier playing a round with a four-ball in Fife…….’

So we’ll see. There are priorities and yes, Skippy, I am more than happy to accept friendships with women I know if romance doesn’t happen. Check previous shows for examples…..and the best known example is…….from almost four years ago…..currently in catering and hoping to open her own place…….soon……subject to planning permission.

What’s that Skippy? Do I keep in touch with women like her in the hopes that something might happen? No. No really. I like people. I missed too many years of my life (approx five) to have regrets…..but I wouldn’t have been in contact in the first place (with some women) if I didn’t like them and there are some who I only ever saw as friends anyway…for all sorts of reason….the sad bit is below the line. 😦

And finally….no…..there is no ‘finally’. I believe I can say ‘never’ when it is me and only me that has control but ‘finally’ has too many influences.

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? Proof in itself.

Johnt850……matching the ego of Sherlock and raising it.

And so to the sad bit.

The Vampire Slayer is leaving the country – her job done. I mean; when did you last see a Vampire? She has been with the blog almost since its inception and the name was given to her by the blogmeister – so convoluted was/has been the thinking behind this blog. She has watched over us for many years now and has never let us down. And her secret identity has never been made known. To that many people.

She is, however, a very real person and has been an amazing friend to me and many others. Yes. There is a slight age gap but that has never really been a problem with her (or Missie K who spends her days watching over us on the roads). Every chat since we finished college (kinda at the same time but for different reasons) has been open and honest and mostly about drink, drugs, sex, rock and roll. We have learned from each other (but see that thing that you know about me that no-one else does, apart from the folk involved……) 😉

In all seriousness I will miss you and the various coffee bars we visited. 😦

Obvs I am not allowed to say where the Vampire Slayer is going but our loss is Milan’s gain.

Ciao bella x

Here’s Avicii for you….