Archive for May, 2014

Wake up in the morning, With the sunlight in my eyes, No, my head don’t feel so bright, What the hell happened last night?

May 30, 2014

The Vamps and I remember those days. 🙂

And so dear listener, I sit down to write this in an optimistic mood. Life is reasonably okay (I have known worse) and the sun is shining and I was given the secret of weight loss last week by my erstwhile colleague Craig W from the BBC of ages ago. He told me that buttering the sides of the crust is a good weight tip loss and I have tried it but do I just eat the crusts? Is that how I actually lose weight?

‘If you don’t finish your avocado, then you won’t get any pistachio ice cream.’

Now that’s a weight loss tip if you are five years old (or approaching) and can I thank Ann from Prostate Cancer HQ for the vegan recipes which I will pass on? I think that’s more rhetorical than an actual question but I will leave the question mark. 🙂

Y’see I am tottering on the high heels of a possible decision. Except it’s not a decision as I am merely exploring the possibility. Of a PhD (that last bit was whispered). Yes. I know I said I wouldn’t and I don’t think I’ve got anything left to prove to anyone – even my then line managers at the College who said ‘alcoholics’ were scum and couldn’t be trusted…….

Except one person……me……..I want to see how far I can go (as it were) but so far I’ve only had one conversation……..there’s a long way to go.

It was nice being back at Paisley Uny (which is not its real name) and altho’ it was quiet I saw a few folk I know but I didn’t go into the library. No. No reason. We will see but I will keep you posted and if you have any thoughts or advice then please contact me…….I will be looking for advice from folk. And possibly funding. 😦

But I did mean to ask the experts if they’d ever heard of ‘compulsive addiction’. This apparently is what Kieran who cheated on Katie with Jane is being treated for. He was quoted as saying ‘I lie compulsively to get an adrenaline buzz’. No son, you lie constantly to get what you want and now some snake-oil salesman is ripping you off for, apparently, £2,500 per week. Does my nut in when people invent unreal diseases and conditions, especially when it’s done to make money and delude other people.

Incidentally, I will soon be announcing details of my own lecture tour entitled, ‘How being hit in the face with a wet fish will cure everything.’ Pure banging it is and a snip at £50 at the door.

But I’ve also been doing essential housework and I’m writing this in the one room still to be cleaned and it’s great. I’m scrumpling up pieces of paper and throwing them on the floor like a real writer and, yes, I always did want to write for the magazine Punch but that was before the owner of Harrod’s took it over. Now I write for, well, you………whoever you are and whatever you’re doing while you read this.

And I get a lot of spam mail – most of it in Mandarin cos a lot of my clients for are Chinese. But one really showed how little they know about the recipient – me. Maybe the sender realised that coming up soon (Wed, 2nd July) I celebrate coming into this world on 2nd July 1954 but NOT my birthday and I’ve never been kayaking. I want to experience new things but to do so with the giver (and if it’s an experience pressie then it may just be sharing in an activity the giver already does) or food. I’ll accept food. Being presumptious (sp).

Those who know me will realise how inappropriate was the subject heading of the spam mail: ‘John – do you want to know how to get a full head of hair?’

But I’ve also been updating my wardrobe for the Summer – two new black t-shirts and a pair of denims. And a mystery item. Oh, and a t-shirt with a dalek on it. Sometimes the money’s worth the look on someone’s face.

And finally, yes, blogmeister, I always ‘Sorry, no thanks’ to people who ask me for money in the street. I did once receive the answer, ‘but I’m not fuc*ing selling you anything’. The only exception is when they say they have an alcohol dependency or similar. Then I give. But ask yourselves…is there a plan to get the homeless who live on the streets off the streets come the Empire Games?

What colours do St Lucia play in anyway? 😀

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? Yes, now the real battle has started.

And so, I didn’t vote. It wasn’t apathy or listening to that twat, Russel Brand. It was a decision based on the fact that in European elections, Scotland is viewed as a single constituency and is represented by six people.

Name them! 🙂

It’s the same in local elections. My ward has four councillors. So who represents me in Europe or Glasgow City Chambers? Representation and accountability – the very basis of democracy as argued and discussed by Thomas Paine, John Locke and America’s founding fathers.

And then it all went pear shaped. UKIP sneaked a man in. It wouldn’t have happened if we had proper first past the post constituencies. I told myself. I feel it’s all my fault and I will now vote always; whatever my scruples about the system. Even if I spoilt my ballot paper……..

I need to extend my audience reach. This is One Direction;

I’m never gonna look back, Woah, never gonna give it up. No, please don’t wake me now…This is gonna be the best day of my life (American Authors)

May 24, 2014

And so dear listener, I am beginning to get academic hunger pangs. The World has been warned. 😀

It was bound to happen. My Karma, my Higher Power, my God, my Energy, my Whatever has been in touch muchly recently. Let me follow it through. (I did once address a prayer to someone else’s Higher Power and it worked and I kept my share of the bargain)

But it had to happen. 😛

Last Monday I was out at UWS (Hamilton) for a prostate cancer focus group to help the PhD work of Gemma who knew me from Paisley but I didn’t know her (I don’t think I was the shrinking violet I sometimes portray myself); I was also talking to a Criminal Justice student who I knew from a suicide intervention course; and then I bumped into uni-Jo who is strutting her funky stuff out there.

The focus group was good and I was reminded of the fun times when I was being sandblasted about five and a bit years ago. And that was the big mistake I made on radio a few weeks ago when I described radiotherapy as ‘being zapped by a nuclear zapping thing’. I should have said ‘being sandblasted by a nuclear sandblasting thing’.

Tuesday I was out at UWS (Hamilton) to meet up with the good Dr W to discuss inter al (as we say in the academic world) her ideas for celebrating the biggest event ever in my life this year – the one in July; not the other one later in the year……..can someone please explain to me – what is a reverse bungee jump? 😦

So I met Dr W and I met Gemma from the day before and I did the gentlemanly thing and stood back and listened to a jolly interesting discussion before going for coffee. So interesting thoughts beginning to be thought.

Wednesday? Well I’ll come back to Wednesday in a minute and the voyage through time that it was…..

Thursday night I was working night shift and the worker who handed over to me had done the same drink’n’drugs course as me but one year previously; again the conversation was an interesting one. So I’m going out to see a man next week and I want to do some reading before then……mmmmm.

Aye, Wednesday… Chryston or was it Muirhead? No. Me neither. But the company was brilliant and it’s been a
long time since I’ve sat at a kitchen table in a kitchen with people passing through and chatting. The getting there was also interesting. Let’s leave aside the fact that I ended up on the M80 driving away from where I was meant to be (on the A80). All I did was leave the motorway; do a strange reversing manoeuvre at a filter bit and managed to get heading back and took it from there.

(Uni-Sharon and Buttons…….I could never master that strange filter turn out of Johnstone on to the M8 back to Glasgow. On at least two occasions I drove beyond it and then u-turned in the correct direction. That may have been illegal)

Anyway, the travelling back in time….older listeners will remember a time when you drove through Stepps, and you passed the Crowwood House Hotel on the left and you then knew that you were about to leave the civilisation of Glasgow and head north. The reason? It was the last set of traffic lights before you reached the next set of lights in, say, Perth……and then there was a Little Chef just outside Cumbernauld that made an early start worthwhile.

I told you it was a journey through time. 🙂

And finally, at the start of the week hospital food was a source of discussion on various TV and radio programmes and the almost-consensus was that it was not good. Going back to last week’s blog of gratitude, see that time I ended up in Gartnavel having cold-turkeyed, I have never, ever been so well fed (well I have but this is relative). I was offered three meals a day with a choice plus a cup of tea and a biscuit in the afternoon……well impressed and well fed……I wasn’t too sure when I had last done the lumpy stuff.

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? No. It’s been replaced for a few weeks by one that says ‘YES’ in Partick Thistle colours…….and I’m not the only one. Thanks blogmeister. 😉

Johnt850, who’s never been a big fan of Fearne Cotton on radio. No. No reason.

So, this week, I’ve been in touch, or am about to get in touch with, a number of men who have various cancers in various stages…… of them confirmed this week altho’ he had said nothing to no-one about it….except to me cos he’d heard me on radio and had realised now was the time to do something about something that was worrying him and he did……And cancers were discovered…….Sometimes my positivity can seem a bit shitty in other people’s eyes…….but I make no apology for it.

And you may have noticed that BBC Radio One had its latest Big Weekend here in Glasgow, well, this weekend……when the Glasgow School of Art went up in flames but maybe not as bad as was first expected. Time will tell. 🙂

Well anyway, the amazing Zane Lowe played an amazing set in the amazing George Square on Friday night. This amazing track gained him massif respect when he played it.

So when the sun sets and we think about what tomorrow will bring, we understand that better is not what we do. It is who we are. (Timberland shoe box)

May 16, 2014

And so dear listener, I started off the week with a visit to the dentist. Out of nowhere my teeth have become very, very, sensitive – as indeed is their owner – so I felt I should do something about it. I have no problems with my dentist other than he talks too much, but when I got there I found it wasn’t him. It was a locum. On his first day in the practice. And I was his first patient. 😦

But he was good. There is nothing that he can do ‘cos my teeth are in good nick and there’s not much that they can do for sensitive teeth in that case. Sensodyne toothpaste. But he also gave me a prescription for toothpaste. And then did a scale and polish (£10)

I’ve had lots of prescriptions in recent years but toothpaste?

(Incidentally, there was a sign in the dentists that read, ‘If you are, or think you may be, pregnant then please inform your dentist.’ I sniggered)

But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking in the last couple of weeks and those of you who don’t like ‘thinking’ blogs can switch off now. 😛

(Incidentally, If you know the East European Big Issue seller then you really should buy a copy, shouldn’t you? So, I did.)

On the homeless front I’m working mostly in the one project and getting to know the folk who live there; and on the vol front, I’m moving from working with one group to helping out at a recovery House. And I’ve been having lots of conversations with some of the folk I’m there to help. In one way or another.

(Incidentally, you may remember the house across from me was the subject of a police raid a few weeks ago. Well this week they’ve had workmen in and taken a delivery of a new lawn – almost as if they were digging a hole and covering it: and there was a burnt out car down the road the other day; and a man was hit in the face by a hammer – wielding other man down by the ASDA (I wondered what had been happening that morning); and counterfeit music worth £700,000 was seized from a flat along the road the other day.)

Sorry. Where was I?

Oh, yeah. I’ve had quite a few conversations with people discussing various parts of my life; including being interviewed by a reporter from the Eastwood Extra (bout the cancer) who videoed the three questions on a mobile phone for use on the video section of the Extra website;

through to talking to one of the guys down in Dumbarton with whom I shared stories of my recovery and how he was doing with his.

(Incidentally he was the one the other day, as we (eight of us) walked from the project’s HQ to the wildlife garden where we’re working who said, ‘Well, jt, this may be the last addiction pride march you take part in down Dumbarton High Street.’)

As many of you know this July and August see the latest biggest event(s) ever in my alter ego’s life (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then find me and I’ll tell you) so it is a natural time for reflection. Whilst I’m not a member of any organisation which has ‘one day at a time’ as one of its best known phrases, there is not a day goes by when I’m not grateful for my recovery from both my alcohol dependency and cancer. Maybe if the bosses at the college where I worked had been more welcoming I might have gone down a different route, but, then, well, they weren’t. But that’s going over old ground as is talking ‘bout my support team, the blog, family and friends and the Partick Thistle fans. 😀

But there’s been two other areas which have kept me going. One is the editing – – which I began four years ago and not only have I found a profitable niche, but when I started to do it, it gave me a structure (becoming self-employed with business plans and business cards and a website and having to come off incapacity benefit) and a status. If you’ve never been seriously out of work, then it is difficult to understand what it is really like. For example, I was tested at Cadogan Street and it was an awful experience. The editing helped deal with some of that.

I think some folk don’t fully realise how much editing there is at times but I have been seriously busy this last few weeks and so has my bank balance. But very importantly, I have helped lots of students to realise much of their potential and done the same thing for me.

The other thing is meeting people for lunch and coffee and a daytime social life. I don’t think folk now realise how hard it was for me to get back into any form of social life after the two issues came to the fore. So lunches and coffees were the order of the day until people realised I could cope on licensed premises. I remember the rainforestriverman always suggesting we go for coffee rather than a drink in a pub the first few times we met once he’d heard about my problem. And on one occasion, on one of these University dinners I used to go to, he actually passed the port to the right so I wouldn’t have to touch it. 🙂

And I helped my sis to find a flat in Glasgow for when she moved back up here and I can still remember eating a fish supper sober one night whilst waiting for a man to come and show me round a possible purchase. That was recovery. It doesn’t have to be restricted to meetings or whatever.

Things like the lunches and coffees still exist, altho’ that’s partly cos I’m doing so many night shifts at the moment, altho’ it’s also partly ‘cos I meet a few women who are actually happily married/partnered or otherwise not interested. It’s safe. 🙂

And cos of the events in a few weeks’ time, I’m not doing any ‘fishing’ at the moment or indeed anything similar. I’ve got a lot to think about and be thankful for just now.

I don’t know how many of you out there are aware of the concept of a Gratitude List. Well I think I’ve just written one.

And for those of you unsure about Steve Earle, here’s another track.

Keep the North Stand, red and yellow…Keep the North Stand, red and yellow

May 10, 2014

And so dear listener, the football season ended, not with a great Thistle victory, but an amazing display of choreographed stewarding as the end of the game drew nigh. On the final whistle, it was like being present at One Man and His Dog as they wheeled and pranced and drew attention to themselves. Unfortunately when the players came on to the pitch to say thanks to the fans, these highly trained custodians failed to stop one wee boy (or cretin as he is known) running on the pitch and the rest followed. Not us. Not this year.

(And I really did see a shepherd practising with four dogs but no sheep on the old putting green next to Kelvingrove Art Galleries the other day. Is it in the Commonwealth Games and how good are St Lucia?)

But the real football drama of the week took place on Wednesday. No. Not the most amazing come-back of all times against Hearts but on the road home. The designated driver was @soulboydaveybee and as he was about to turn into a heavy stream of traffic leaving Embra, his glasses fell apart and his sight went with them as well. 😦

Hero Alan grabbed the wheel and carried on turning it. The car was already heavily steamed up cos we had arrived back at the car soaking wet. And then we had the hassle of driving on our side of the road with all these cars driving in the opposite direction to us. We were the only ones going in the right direction. Weird.

Okay. I made that last bit up. But the rest is true……and well done Alan. 🙂

‘Liberte, egalite, fraternite and the North Stand’ (The French Revolution)

But well done the Thistle for a very entertaining season and I will continue to follow although next year I lose student discount on my season ticket. Almost a reason for doing a PhD. 😉

Moving randomly on, older listeners will remember the European butter mountain and oft wonder what happened to it. Well, the solution popped up on the Eurovision Song Contest the other night. Yes. This is an excuse for tasteless innuendo akin to all those pix of semi-naked firemen that pop up from time to time on Facebook but aren’t seen as sexist. Ladies and gentlemen I give you the Polish entry;

They’re called Donatan and Cleo and are actually really good and very political so I can truthfully say that the butter churning is done in a post-modern ironic way.

‘The Rights of Man include the North Stand staying Red and Yellow’ (Thomas Paine)

Maybe I should explain. For the last season we have stood in the all-seated North Stand, miles away from the family atmosphere of the Jackie Husband Stand. We give loud and vociferous, if sometimes, rude-ish, support.

There is a rumour that the North Stand may be given over to away fans for the next season – a purely commercial decision. And an unpopular one. In the North Stand.

But one decision that does meet with approval is the return of the Kelvingrove Bandstand to the Glasgow music scene. Once upon a time, music festivals in Glasgow were sponsored and organised by Radio Clyde and I have many memories of days at the Bandstand.…..Steve Earle is playing and I have got two tickets to see him. What? No. Not yet. 😉

Other acts who going to be there over a few days are Teenage Fanclub, Squeeze and the Waterboys (quiet moment of reflection at their presence) in a venue which will hold 2,500 people. Gates open at 6 and home in time for cocoa….…I think not……

And finally, as some of you know, as well as the paid work in supported housing for the homeless, I do some vol stuff down Dumbarton way. The idea was to get some experience and keep up some of the skills I’ve learned in recent years. Well, I’m moving the vol work but still with the same org. I will be doing my vol stuff in a form of recovery house known as a therapeutic community. The idea, at its simplest, is that the residents/service users have a big say in the running of the house in terms of their links with fellow residents. It is a big task for all those involved and I’m thoroughly looking forward to being part of the team……

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? Aye, I wonder what age it is now?

Johnt850, beginning to get used to the event that is the beginning of July.

I first discovered Steve Earle in 2003 during the beginnings of the Iraq War when I was still a BBC person.

I worked on a Saturday morning news programme and the decision was taken to send the fragrant Ken McDonald to New York to anchor the show from there. One of the items I tried to set up was an interview for Ken with Steve.

Steve was a well-known and prolific country singer who, along with the Dixie Chicks, had stood up against the war and as a result had been ostracised by his peers. But he stuck to his guns. In trying to get him on I listened to a lot of his music. We never got him on the prog but I became a convert to his music.

He’s also a recovered problem drinker.

I wasn’t sure what track to choose but fellow studently person, Nessa, decided for me. This is Copperhead Road. Enjoy.

What’s radiotherapy? Well, it’s like being zapped by a nuclear zapping thing (jt850)

May 3, 2014

And so dear listener, with several years of experience in broadcasting but mostly on the production side, I found myself reduced to that level of description of something which was such a large part of my life for sooooo many months. Indeed I’ve heard better description of things on Children’s TV. 🙂

At which point I’d like to pay tribute to Jayne who wrote the script for a recent episode of Mr Tumble what I happened to see (I’m seeing Killer Clowns everywhere I turn now) in the company of AJ and RJ. I believed every word. And the Garden Centre waits for no-one. 😉

Anyway, I’d got the call in the morning. John Ross Beattie, as he now calls himself, wanted me to take part in his prog following the good news that morning about cancer results – news which I had not heard but that’s never stopped me before – and given that he called me himself and he promised me a car park space, how could I refuse?

So I wandered over. And parked in the wrong space. Often when I’m in the area of BBC Radio Scotland I say to my companion(s) that I won’t know anyone these days. And so it proved. Other than Bill, Ken, Mike, Reevel and Torquil. Yes. There is a Torquil and, yes, he does work on Newsnight Scotland.

And so I was taken up to the studio. We walked rather than take the lift. I am sooooo unfit. And I was taken into the studio and it was then I realised the schoolboy error that I had committed. I asked John who else was on and how long were we talking for. No-one else and ten minutes. And I had prepared nothing. 😦

But it was okay cos I do talk about cancer a lot. Indeed the next day I was due to do a presentation to a group of people in recovery from drugs such as heroin about this very subject. And I did. And very well it went too.

But John did ask me to describe radiotherapy. And that was what I came out with. Those who’ve been with the blog since it first started as a kinda newsletter to tell people how I was doing during that period of my life will remember that I used to call it sandblasting and to describe the mechanics of it all and how, no matter how good looking the nurses and radiotherapists, I never raised so much as a smile and the jokes with the other folk and all that kinda stuff but none of that came back in those few seconds……what came back was the ten to twelve minutes of isolation and loneliness once you’d been positioned properly and the nuclear alarm had gone and everyone left the room but you had to stay there as stock still as possible whilst the machine did its duty and then you could be allowed to go.

That’s when you consider the enormity of cancer. And you realise that, with the help of the NHS and family and friends, you are beating it. You are not a victim. You are not suffering. Together you are beating it.

And then the machine stops and you put your clothes back on and you’re back on the open road on the way home. 😀

Other parts of the interview did relate to the language used in connection with cancer. And in my answer to the final question from Connie; yes, it is a wee bit like my conversion to pescetarianism. I like the fact that there’s a whole range of choices out there and tastes and flavours and stuff that I had never ever experienced before…….that and what had happened months previously.

And well done to uni-Sharon and Mel and Becky and their superb finish in the Race for Life today. And others who I know and my thanks to all those who raise money for cancer charities… way or another. 😀

My thanks to those who listened and the nice comments. And it’s here and it’s 48 minutes in.

Elsewhere this week?

e, AJ and RJ and me had a splendid game of football and picnic on the blaize pitches across the road from the student flats at (the former) Queen Margaret Hall; I did a few shifts in Sauchiehall Street and good they were; the prostate cancer chat went well down in Dumbarton; and I and a few other parents ate well at the house of son Brian and daughter-in-law, Katie, where Son Brian did all the cooking including cous-cous (I must get the recipe). Everyone else ate Moroccan lamb; I ate basically a pot-pourri of roast veg. New experience and new tastes. A good week.

And finally, can someone recommend somewhere for a special meal somewhere in Glasgow City Centre at the beginning of July……Maybe ten to twelve people but kinda well, maybe not intimate, but where we have a wee bit of elbow room.

That’s the brief.

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? With pride. This week.

Johnt850 and it’s time I bought a new pair of Saturday night sliders.

One small thing to finish with. There’s a lot of talk about educational standards at the moment. This caught my eye on TV this week.


What, I wondered, was an entry exam and why did we need to know they weren’t happening? 😉

One full stop. That’s all it needed.

Here’s the Black Keys. No. No reason. There doesn’t always have to be one, does there?