Archive for December, 2014

If you’re looking for the Blog of the Year Awards Ceremony, it’s immediately below this…but I just wanted to say a few words about Queen Street.

December 27, 2014

I never drank in the Clutha but anytime I am in town I tend to walk part, or all, of that walk down Queen Street.

When I went to UWS (Hamilton) it was the street I used to get to Argyle Street Station; when I went to Central Station I walked down that way before going through Royal Exchange Square; I bought a special X Factor Christmas card from the ArtShop in Queen Street; if you ever need a free toilet in Glasgow City Centre then there’s one downstairs in the Gallery of Modern Art; candles and incense from various shops down that way; how often have I eaten from that Gregg’s?; The Counting House was the first bar I drank (orange juice) in after Cold Turkey Sunday; I’ve touted for work in the Chamber of Commerce; and I’m on nodding terms with the Evening Times news vendor outside the station.

I mean no-one could expect a helicopter but a f*cking Corpie bin lorry………..still, that’s Glasgow for you…….we do the unexpected so well.

So come back Woody Guthrie, Come back to us now. Tear your eyes from paradise and rise again somehow, If you run into Jesus maybe he can help you out. Come back Woody Guthrie to us now (Steve Earle)

December 27, 2014

And so it’s that time of year again when the strumpets are flourished and Skippy puts on her best dress with the ever shrinking hemline and reminds everyone she was once a contender for Miss Western Australian Kangaroo of the Year until the hedonistic delights of Summerston beckoned. 😉

It’s the Blog Personality of the Year Awards…well established and well respected and well deserved all of them…….new listeners should be aware that unlike, say, recent comedy awards going to unfunny people and BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards going to sportspeople with no personality, these are all highly weird and have no real rhyme or reason to them other than my whim. A wee bit like the blog itself which is written in about thirty minutes echoing my mood of that moment….so let’s rock. And maybe roll. And have a spliffing good time.

(The blog should never ever be seen as being about anyone else other than me and not as a device to reach anyone. Usual Terms and Conditions do apply)

So, let’s go straight to the Lifetime Achievement Award. I won this once. I have known this person for five years, although there are times when it seems longer (read what you will into that) but amongst all her enthusiasms, there has been one thing she has wanted more than almost anything (read what you will into that). This year, the Good Doctor W, returned to teaching law and what she described as ‘living the dream’. It’s hectic and busy but she’s happy and, I hear from a trusted source, is really good at. W is one of the most enthusiastic people I know and anytime I leave her company I leave it totally exhausted (No. Don’t bother reading anything into that.) An award thoroughly deserved. Well done W and here’s to more adventures. 🙂

The link to Team of the Year is seamless as W was the one who introduced me to Outbreak Zombie. I never, ever dreamt that I would want to dress up in weird makeup, strange clothing and utter strange noises and scare people. (Yes. I have done drag but it was a long time ago) but after the audition I wanted to. And I didn’t want to let Mark, Katie or Paula down…and then when I got to know them…people like Jade, ‘Chelle, Danielle, Charlie Bear, Robert, Graeme or Zoe. (And if I’ve missed anyone out, I’m sorry, but I have a word count). Instant bonding or was that the make up? Well done guys, and, speaking as a non-alcohol drinker, that was one helluva hangover I had the next day after the end of run party. Here’s to next year. 🙂

(I’ve also introduced a new category – Musical track of the Year – and it will be played at the end)

And now for the main event….

So much has happened this year; the birth of my grand-daughter (gd); seeing heroes Steve Earle and James Ellroy; getting a job; Zombieing; Going Ape; Abseiling down the Titan Crane; celebrating being born in 1954; babysitting for RJ and AJ; beginning the application process for a PhD; going to a seafood cookery course; trampolining; and waking up every morning which is a vastly under-rated pastime……and a lot of other stuff.

It has been a difficult job to choose and it took me ages to count the votes and then bin them……(Yes. I’ve seen the nonsense video about vote-rigging at Referendum counts, which was an insult to anyone who’s ever been involved in a count and showed complete ignorance of how counts are conducted in this country and I have been at many)

In Third Place (roll of drums similar to the one at the start of New Rose by the Damned)……is getting a job. In addition to the essay editing for students – – I am now an established and paid part-time project worker (nightshifts) with a charity which offers supported accommodation for the homeless. And I get things like paid leave and Time Off In Lieu and all sorts of stuff like that and I enjoy the job. I was sitting in a car with you’ll never guess who and she said, ‘That’s it, jt, we’re both grown up. We have jobs’….and it’s a weird feeling but a nice one. And I enjoy doing what I do – difficult tho’ it is at times.

Second place also involves a very lovely lady, e, but does not involve either of her very young children. e very kindly accompanied me to see Steve Earle at the Kelvingrove Bandstand and must have wondered what she was letting herself in for. The opening act was poor; the seats were concrete; and the drink was expensive. And then Steve (solo) came on and she was instantly captivated by his personality and his opening remarks. Instead of the usual ‘Hello Glasgow’ his opening words were, ‘Would someone switch that fu*king smoke machine off? I can’t see a fuc*ing thing.’ Sheer poetry and a brilliant night and this was a contender for Musical Track of the Year.

but it didn’t win.

And now for the first place…….let the high-hats and cymbals have their perverted way. So weeks after the celebration of being born in 1954 (and thanks to my sis for organising the actual meal) we celebrated W’s being born not that long ago by going to Go Ape near Aberfoyle. This is zipwiring, tree traversing and climbing up rickety ladders and there was much trepidation on both sides but a realisation that, whereas eight years ago I’d been hooked up to intravenous drips and in a bed surrounded by bars, here we were hooked up to control lines in the very open air and all it needed was me to say Three, Two, One, Go and a leap of faith began and ended successfully – a metaphor for 2014 and hopefully one for 2015 as well. 🙂

So this year’s winner is Going Ape – for once the bookie’s favourite. Goodness only knows what’s ahead of me in 2015 but thankfully I am still alive to record it.

Cya, still wearing that badge and going for it.

Johnt850 and the bungee jumping didn’t look that bad.

And the winner of this year’s Musical Track of the Year? Zombie by Jamie T. (No. No relation)

Have yourselves a Merry Little Christmas, listeners. Well, I would say that, wouldn’t I?

December 20, 2014

And so dear listener, it’s just days to Christmas and Skippy is warming up the innuendoes and my cockles. She was a wee bit miffed not to be included in last week’s list of besties (e, Dr W and the rainforestriverman) but I’ve placated her. I gave her something nice for her bush. The one she shelters under when it’s too sunny here in Summerston.  🙂

But today’s show is the world famous Christmas Cracker edition of the blog;

Q What happened to the man who stole the Advent Calendar?

A He got twenty-five days


Q What’s green, covered in tinsel and goes ribbet, ribbet?

A Mistle-toad!

No, rrm, why would the audience be dressed as zombies when we already were? I know you dispense advice to people in power. I worry sometimes. And all that water you drank……..mmmmmmm

Q How did Scrooge score the winning goal in the Boxing Day game of football?

A The Ghost of Christmas passed.

And I notice the Zombies are considering abseiling down the Titan Crane en masse. Aye, that’s the one me and Dr W did a wee while ago. Would I do it again? Aye, but you know what it’s like after the first time; the second time, you do it a lot more slowly.

Q Why is it getting harder to buy Advent calendars?

A Their days are numbered.

And the secret to cheating about poaching eggs (in my microwave egg poacher £1.99 from Poundstretcher) is to have the smell of vinegar in the kitchen. 🙂

Q Why did Santa’s little helper see the counsellor?

A He had low elf-esteem.

And I do do Christmas Cards. Not only does it tell people I’m alive but it gives money to Cancer Research UK, spreads their name and brings a smile to people’s faces (hopefully) when they see I’ve been in touch. However, I was doing the neighbours’ cards and there’s been a wee turnover of people recently and whilst I know the new ones to nod to I don’t know them that well. When, eventually, I am discovered to be a serial killer they will be the ones interviewed by TV journalists and say, ‘Well he kept himself to himself’.


(Which is the catchphrase that didn’t work for Ford and Greg so we won’t mention that)

Actually so is Carole across the road and Ross next door.

Q What do you get if you cross a bell with a skunk?

A Jingle Smells

And farewell to Mandy Rice-Davies. As most people are aware of my age I am not ashamed to admit I was about eight or nine when the Profumo Scandal broke. It had everything an eight or nine year old could want; newspapers and television telling us about politics and sex with lots of pictures of good looking ladies with not a lot of clothes on. I preferred Mandy to Christine but who can forget that iconic picture of a naked Christine sitting on what is probably a Conran chair. 🙂 I obviously can’t. 🙂

Q What do you call a bunch of chess players bragging about their games in a hotel lobby?

A Chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.

And finally it’s time to say Cheerio to an old friend. In the early days of the blog, one of the biggest supports came from a, then, student called my gd frnd Clr – a texty young lady from whom I had a lot of help and support in terms of my cancer and a host of other things. Separate ways were went and for probably good reasons. Sometimes there is moving on to be done.

She was responsible for the ‘Keep(ing) it fun’ aspect of the blog and helped me considerably through early and difficult days but in the spirit of new haircut I had a long conversation with a fellow worker, about three in the morning, about many things (not directly the blog), and a decision was reached. See if you can spot the difference.

Cya, still wearing that badge and just going for it!

Johnt850, See Christmas, see families but at least I have one to talk about.

So next week sees the keenly awaited Personality of the Year Awards and is there no end to the nominations? Eh, no, there’s not.

So can I just take this opportunity to say Merry Christmas to all my listeners and play what I think is the greatest Christmas song of all times – not cos of the lyrics or the music or anything like that – but cos of the memories. 😀

One Christmas Day me and (whatever happened to) Viv were sitting in our flat in Otago Street, quite happy in our own company, when the doorbell rang. And it rang again a few minutes later. And then again. And all our mates who were with families but wanted away (this was just post-student days the first student time around) had said, ‘jt and Viv are on their own tonight so we’re going to pop in and see them and we’ll take these bottles with us.’

A great party was had by all. 🙂

Greg Lake (and I used to have hair like this)

My name is John and I am not an alcoholic. I just don’t drink alcohol but I am not boring.

December 13, 2014

And lo, dear listener, it came to pass that I was doing a work placement in a Community Rehab Unit in Easterhouse as part of my Post Grad about three years ago when I was asked to do a ‘share’. Now various explanations are needed here.

A ‘share’ is a basic part of Alcoholics Anonymous and the other fellowships, in which someone who has come through recovery tells their story in the hope that it inspires others – a smashing notion – and reassures people that they are not alone. However, in the very few meetings I attended, I never felt it was a full share in that there was a table between the speaker and the rest of the people and no questions were taken (people are allowed to speak without interruption) but I so wanted to ask so many things……

At New Horizons, people who’d been through the workshops and sessions and survived the process of adjusting to a world, ‘clean and clear’, were invited back to share their stories and take questions. On one memorable occasion the speaker and a couple of the other folk had got locked into a discussion on the whys and wherefores of intravenously injecting diazepam and temazepam. At this point the Chair, one of the workers, decided to exert her authority and issued this command; ‘that’s enough about jagging the eggs. Let’s move on.’ And we did. 🙂

So, in my final week, I was asked to do a ‘share’ but I wasn’t too sure. The relationship I was in at the time was going disastrous and I did not feel ‘in the zone’ but I’d developed a good friendship with one of the workers (a woman) and I spoke to her. Turned out she had problems as well. She had a child from a previous relationship but was now in a lesbian relationship and was looking forward to seeing her current partner’s son that night. I decided to do the share.

Approx twenty people in various stages of recovery from smack and benzos and charlie and about four workers were sitting in a circle and I was introduced. The room was packed. Some knew that I’d had an alcohol problem but others were surprised.

I talked; and took questions. I spoke of things I would never ever discuss with my family; even my current besties, people such as e, Dr W and the rainforestriverman, have never been told these things. They happened in another life but I spoke about them that afternoon. And some of these were pretty horrible.

And then, as I spoke about things like the drink culture in the BBC where I had worked and my bad cancer and how I’d come close to losing my job and the horrors that attacked me when I had cold turkey and those things which I’d like to forget, something hit me.

The thing I had lost most was my creativity and it made sense to those with whom I was sharing cos I had been doing Creative Writing workshops with them and they understood why and what was to be gained. In my latter BBC days I’d been producing shows like Off the Ball and News progs but had added little to them and my teaching (college) days had been similar. Mind you creativity was not encouraged in college teaching and my head of department was one of those to cry me ‘scum’ after my Cold Turkey……but I was in a smashing mood. I had discovered something about myself. I had enjoyed my share and so had my audience. 🙂

My female co-worker hugged me but she was crying. Not joy for me, but she was being banned from seeing her partner’s boy (contact denied) but had wanted to be there for me.

I had discovered something about people who were so willing to be there for me.

Hopefully I’ve done the same for other people. My own relationship went down the gutter it had been heading towards for some time but I came through that horrible time because I had ideas in my head. My creativity had returned and whilst it might be difficult to see the like of Going Ape as being part of that creativity, the freedom of zipwiring over the Aberfoyle countryside and having a friend to talk me through an incident with a cargo net and having the clear head to understand what was being asked of me, adds to creativity because your head takes it all in. FFS, I could never have done that ten years ago.

Other people have been involved in loads of other things as well.

Son Brian and the lovely KT creating a grand-daughter is pretty ace as well.

Just think. If I hadn’t beaten off the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse on Cold Turkey Sunday I might never have seen gd, as I call her. 😀

Thanks for listening,

Cya (keep)ing it fun and still wearing that badge? I smile every time I look at it.

Johnt850 and you’ve got to live on the edge or else you take up too much space.

So this blog was started just before my cancer treatment started and that was about the time of the 2008 Grand National and a horse was recommended to me called Comply or Die and when you’re about to start cancer treatment that is such an obvious horse to put money on.

I discovered that lunchtime that Son Brian also had money on it.

Comply or Die romped home at 7 – 1. I won £35. Not sure what my son won but during the congratulatory texts, his final one to me read;

‘The winning jockey is a recovering alcoholic’…………excuse me a second, there’s something in my eye.

The band that got me through this time was Alabama 3. This is an incredibly badly video of them giving the world their version of the Twelve Steps

I don’t look for trouble but trouble looks for me And it’s been waiting round corners since I was seventeen (Neon Jungle)

December 7, 2014

And so dear listener, Dr W and I have just had our latest adventure. Altho’ to be honest mine occurred even before we met up in the car park of our eventual destination. We seem to have a thing about car parks and their many purposes. That is the last time I take direction from AA StreetMap when I want to go to East Kilbride. I was all over the place and went through Rutherglen for some weird reason. The way back saw me totes on the M74 and then the M8. 🙂

Anyway it was good to see the good doctor. There had been a minor fallout over a minor misunderstanding. And it was good for us to have the opportunity to bounce back. At the AirSpace Trampoline Park in East Kilbride. Wall to wall trampolines and with added socks appeal.

I was terrified. Abseiling and zipwiring are basically easy once you realise that you are hooked up and gravity takes you. Here it comes down to what you can do with your legs; your pelvic floor*; and your arms and hands. And it lasts up to an hour. A bell is ringing but I can’t place it. 😉

• Doing the Time warp (again) is good for practising pelvic thrusts…just thought I’d mention it.

I started off gently – finding my way but soon realised what I was capable of and how far I could go. But it’s not often I do things like this with socks on. Then I got up a head of steam and was banging off walls………I think I’ll stop there. Skippy is pouring buckets of cold water over me. I’ll come to the climax later.

Meanwhile Dr W was performing cartwheels and backflips and star jumps and all sorts of things. I moved on. I hit a giant airbag. Deliberately. But I did bouncy things before I jumped on it. So it was deliberate. And then I tried bouncing and throwing a basketball through a hoop. With difficulty. Dr W is a big show-off when it comes to basketball so I won’t say how good she was. 🙂

And then the climax. We went to a café near the rock climbing bit for a coffee. Okay, so not every place has soya milk for vegans (I still have a pint in the fridge) but when I asked for a cheese’n’onion toastie, I was told not a problem – except they had no onions. A cheese toastie is not the same.

Would I go back? Yes. Would I be braver? Yes. Would I do it immediately after a night shift again? Yes. Was it more of a workout than a fun thing? Yes. And is Dr W any good at basketball? Yes……but see checking e-mails for attachments? She’s rubbish….I’ll move on.

But it’s been a week of new experiences. For example, I and another worker took some of the homeless folk from where I work to see A Christmas Carol and whilst it was difficult to take in for some, they enjoyed the spectacle – and I was on a bus for the first time in years and managed the return journey. An interesting experience. Would I repeat it? Maybe.

Incidentally, I said to someone recently that one of the things I like about my job is that when my shift finishes normally I go. I don’t take my work home with me. ‘Well’, she said, ‘given that you work with homeless people and refugees that might be a bit awkward.’

And can I thank Zoe the Zombie (and ace photographer) for her invite to her eighteenth. I can’t remember the last time I was at an eighteenth. No. I don’t mean I don’t remember when I was last at an eighteenth. I mean I can’t remember what I did at the last eighteenth I was at. And someone asked if I knew her parents and that was why I was asked. I said ‘no’ – I said I know someone who’s seventeen and is turning eighteen. We were in the Zombie wars of 2014 together – we were that conga line.

For my eighteenth my father took me over the water – or the River Ugie to give it its proper title – to his golf club and we had two bottles of Carlsberg together. I didn’t want to tell him I’d had much more the night before. 😦

And finally Skippy and me are still looking for nominations for the Personality of the Year Award. Previous recipients have included a glass of whisky and 6 hours, 31 minutes and thirty-four seconds. There’s also a Lifetime Achievement award and also the Team of the Year. There are some front-runners but there’s a few week to go.

Cya, keep(ing) it fun and still wearing that badge? It’s terrified as to what Dr W is going to suggest next.

Johnt850 – a man with the makings of a freestyle runner.

So why, I’m asked, is the drink driving limit for drink not just set at Zero here in Scotland? Well. It is. A pint will take you over as will a large glass of wine and so on. The slight freedom is to allow for the fact that some things contain alcohol in them such as medicines and, the one I always quote, Listerine – and I’m not going to get into the spit or swallow debate. And some puddings.

It’s not that long since I was given a commercially available tiramisu pudding which had CONTAINS ALCOHOL on the side. I loved it – and had to be driven home as a gibbering wreck…..

Many people who have been alcoholically dependent (or chronic alcoholics as some people might refer to them) cut back for all sorts of reasons and are what we term controlled drinkers downing a couple of pints and going home unlike their previous lives. When I started my then recovery I was given that option by my addiction worker – to stop completely or to aim for controlled drinking.

I chose the Zero Option and I’m glad I did. Makes life a lot simpler..….and for those of you who might be drinking alone in a cocktail bar this Christmas here’s some cocktail Christmas music to drink to.