Archive for March, 2015

It’ll maybe be Aye, it’ll maybe be Naw but until you ask, it’ll always be Maybe* (Ruth Watson)

March 27, 2015

And so dear listener, you may remember last week’s blog ended with me in a strange bed in a Lisbon hotel-room having had my fill of custard tarts, hash dealers and sex shops and can I just say what a nice hotel room it was. En-suite and with bed’n’breakfast thrown in (Do your own gag) for £34 a night booked in Glasgow. 🙂

Day Two started. And I went and had breakfast; rolls, croissants, cold meats (No Sirree…not for me), processed cheese, coffee and marmalade with real oranges. And I clocked the single mum. But, hey, I was on holiday. 😉

Now what I don’t want this to be is a travelogue. Apart from anything else my original plan was buggered. The original idea had been to use the Wednesday afternoon and evening to do the walking in the area and to plan something like a bus journey for today (Thursday) in order to ‘site/sight see’ (a lovely phrase borrowed from Dr W). 😀

That was out the window. So I decided to walk up to the castle I’d seen the previous night and see Lisbon from there.

So I did. Big long walk. Didn’t make it to the very top cos my fear of heights got in the way of last set of steps.

I could go up but was terrified of coming down. I could have zip-wired or abseiled happily, but walking down those steep steps? No way, Jose, so I pretended to limp.

And then I walked; and sat; and coffeed; and visited ‘the sexiest wc in the world’; and ate grilled sardines which were too big and came back on me later; and I bought and sent some postcards; and coffeed; and sat; and chilled; and got leaflets for my next trip here (altho some ppl are suggesting ‘try another city before you find the one you want to retire to’); and watched the river do nothing; and much of my head cleared; and I had a toastie cos the sardines were still coming back; and watched some young people playing with a piece of street furniture which was like a large tablet (as in Apple etc) which allowed them to do graffiti on-screen and take selfies and stuff; and coffeed and chilled; and had my final custard tart of the day; and I went to bed to sleep……and that was Day Two. 😀

Day Three arrived and the journey home beckoned. But I bought some t-shirts including one for my G/daughter and had a final tart and got a taxi to the airport. Compared with Wednesday night’s grump, this guy was good. I had seen so little of Lisbon with its wide avenues and fountains and statues on each roundabout (which reminds me I’m doing some prostate cancer presentations in East Kilbride later in April) and it’s just sooooo lovely. 🙂

I was at the airport. On my own. But I asked at TAP (Portugal Airlines) where the check-in was and she pointed to a wide range of check-in desks. Big queue but moving. So I joined it and was also moving. Check-in went fine until the words, ‘I need to explain something on your boarding pass? It says stand-by. Don’t worry. You’ll get a seat okay but we know the flight is over-booked but some people won’t be here. We’re going to upgrade frequent flyers of which you’re not one. You’ll be fine.’ 😦 😦 😦

With heavy heart I walked to the Gate where I met some others on ‘standby’ and we spoke to a lady who said, ‘Just wait and you’ll be fine’ but it didn’t help when someone, who was tweeting, said ‘possibly get us to London and then transfer to flight to Manchester’. My tears were internal. It didn’t happen and we all got seats. It’s my luggage – a Calloway Golf Bag with no Pringle sweaters – I was worried about. Not me. Honest, guv.

The flight was fine but I must confess to a lapse; there was cold meat in the roll that passed for the ‘light meal’. It’s not ethical and according to Prochaska and di Clemente it happens (Yes as regards pescatarianism but, no, and to my great pride, never in my alcohol recovery). My tears were internal. 🙂

But we reached Manchester (Not Leeds. Not Bradford. Not London.) without any hassle and I did the walking thing between the two terminuses and the checking-in thing and then I sat in the hell that is Domestic Departures. I had a nice goat’s cheese salad but the guy next to me in the restaurant reminded me of what it used to be like in the days when I flew for the BBC – a gin’n’tonic; a starter; a bottle of wine; and a main course and that’s a good hour filled in before the flight.

And then came time to look for the Gate number and every Gate above and below Glasgow was getting filled. And my panic returns and my tears are there but barely holding on. And this voice that sounds like Mickey Mouse on helium announces Gate 43 and it’s two minutes down the corridor and the Flybe rep starts to actually talk to us without the mic and he really does have a voice that sounds like Mickey Mouse on helium. We all look at each other as if to say ‘he really does have a voice that sounds like Mickey Mouse on helium.’

So we got on the plane and the stewardess asked if I would move from 11c to 10c and would I make myself acquainted with the instructions for opening the emergency door. In the event of an emergency I would be responsible. I trembled but was happy so to do. I spent the entire flight worrying, particularly as I could see a UFO that no-one else could – it turned out to be a light at the end of the wing. 🙂

And so, finally, dear listener we landed – safely – and within minutes I was re-united with my bag. My tears were external. At the cost of the taxi home from the airport. Jeez. But I was home.

Cya, still wearing that badge and having defo gone for it, * and I’m going to phone some folk rather than text them

Johnt850, feeling the need to constantly regenerate

So I had done what I wanted to do; I experienced a trip abroad. Lisbon was the vehicle; going and coming back were the destinations. I know some folk find it hard to understand but remind yourself that one of my best friends is an invisible bush kangaroo called Skippy and maybe it makes sense? My confidence is boosted. 🙂

Ciao…….oops wrong country

I was going to play ‘Don’t You Find’ by Jamie T but the lyrics are open to misinterpretation. So here’s the Reading Festival version of last year’s top hit – ‘Zombie’. Watch for the guy trying to take a selfie with the band!

It is better to have travelled and struggled that never to have travelled at all (me)

March 21, 2015

And so, dear listener, the week got off to such a good start. I had food with Missie K in the downstairs bit of Prince’s Square and over the course of a couple of gentle and lazy hours my world was put right; I ended up in holiday mood and I was given such good fishing advice. I am entitled to my views about the age of the fish but I should use a longer line and a bigger net 🙂

And Tuesday was just that kinda quiet organisational kinda day that you have before going away; putting out the rubbish, final packing and electronic check-in just to prove you’re hip to new technology in the grooviest kinda way. I was going to Lisbon with a connection at Manchester. 🙂

….and then it all went disastrously wrong….disastrously. 😦

The taxi drive to the airport was fine altho’ my paranoia did kick in when the taxi driver talked about me being single and I replied ‘yes’ altho’ I didn’t tell him my life story – was he checking me out for his pals to break in when I wasn’t there? My fears went when he talked about how expensive it was to take his wife and two children to Pakistan every two or three years. I give him a good tip. 😉

The check-in was okay and I’d a wee side seat on my own at the side…….and we got up in the air and then the captain was speaking: ‘A lot of fog in the Manchester area and we are in a holding area but we have plenty of fuel (‘we’?).’ And we held and we circled and then came the announcement I’d been dreading. We weren’t going to Manchester but to Leeds/Bradford…….I would miss my connection. 😦

Sitting on the tarmac at Leeds (or is it Bradford?) thinking of Lisbon.

Eventually a bus took us to the terminus. We hung around and I worried about my one piece of luggage still being somewhere when a door opened and out it fell. We hung around and then a strange bus turned up and this was ours….twenty minutes after we’d been told it was on its way. Further confusion as the driver refused to leave until somebody from the terminus had counted heads. It was only when a Glaswegian voice from the back threatened to take his off if he didn’t go soon, did he start the motor. I then did the bit where I looked behind me as well pretending to wonder whose voice it was.

We are tremendously lucky in Glasgow to have a motorway to and from the airport with its ability to connect with roads to the South, to the East and to Summerston. This one went through rural and urban byways and over bumpy roads; my texting my woes was less than adequate.

D’you remember, Dr W, the time you ran the marathon in Embra and we got on a bus* that took us from Musselburgh Primary School to Straiton Car Park where my car was? Well it was like that all the way to Manchester – nothing but people’s back gardens. *there’s something I’ve never told you about that bus…….. 😉

We got to Manchester and I took my bag to the international terminus I thought I’d be leaving from – only to be told I had to go back to the previous one and talk to the FlyBe desk (or at least the people behind it) and they would sort things out. So I went back and there was an enormous queue cos of the problems that Manchester had had that morning. 😦

It took an hour and a half to get sorted and a letter of complaint will be going off and I got a food voucher so I was eating a baked potato with prawns at the time I should have been eating something a lot more exotic in Lisbon….but my phone was charging in some cleaner’s hoover socket beside me.

The flight to Lisbon was lovely and unbusy. The light meal was a filled roll with tuna and olives and a prune drink for afters. 😀

I arrived; did all the check-out things including my first ever e-passport and collected my luggage. I knew where the taxis were and what roughly it would cost. The taxi marshall was organising the queue and I didn’t have to wait long. For a taxi whose driver did not speak English. This should not have been a problem as I had the name of my hotel on a sheet of paper and I knew it was in the City Centre off the Avenida da Liberdade. He ignored this and stabbed at the Sat Nav with the stub of a bookie’s pencil whilst drinking from a bottle of water and starting to take his leather jacket off. And then changing his mind. And putting it back on. And stabbing at the Sat Nav, ad infinitum. 😦 😦 😦

And we made the Avenida and I’m saying ‘it’s over there’ but he drove round it twice and then asked fellow taxi drivers who said, ‘It’s over there,’ I arrived. At a perfectly clean and tidy hotel just off the main Avenue for £34 per night. Value. 🙂

I was tired but I thought I’ve lost my day; let’s go for a walk. So I did and round the corner from the hotel on the way to the Avenida was a ‘Peep Show and Sex Shop’.

I did not go in. I’ve been …….I’ll move on. To the Avenida. Stepping over the homeless in the doorways and telling a man who offered me some white pills that I didn’t want any. The brochure had described this area as ‘young and vibrant’ but I would say ‘seedy’.

I walked down various streets and rejected various offers of ‘try before you buy’ from various hash(ish) sales people. I think if I tried and declined, I would not be here just now. I don’t think I have ever knocked back so much hash in one night in my life (Skippy, that sentence doesn’t seem right…..) but I walked down to the river and I decided I was happy. 🙂

I had a cup of coffee and two custard tarts (nothing to do with the Peep Show next door) and went to bed. Smiling. I was in Lisbon. I had arrived.

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it.

Johnt850 aka Mr Adventurer.

Next week, or maybe mid-week, I will tell you more about the other two days but to a certain extent, I was achieving what I wanted. It has been so long since I ventured abroad that I wanted a kinda practice and I don’t think I’ve ever done it on my own – always with someone or with a group. It was a learning experience.

But my thanks to Son Brian, my sis, e and Dr W for replying to texts so quickly…….they are used to my idiosyncratic ways and are so very patient………..

I also understand why holidays mean so much to people in my line of work. Fresh air – literal and metaphorical.

…at least no-one offered me Red Exodus or Black Mamba….it’s only time.

This is Martha and the Muffins…and the sax solo’s as good as Baker Street.

It was the sort of silence shared by two people who are comfortable enough not to force a conversation ahead of its logical progression (Wolf of Wall Street)

March 14, 2015

And so, dear listener, are you one of the hundreds of thousands who signed a petition calling for the re-instatement of Jeremy Clarkson without knowing the facts? There seems little doubt that there was a fracas over the lack of red meat at the end of a day’s ‘filming’ but the fact that it was eventually settled by the manager of the hotel cooking steak for the three presenters and not for the rest of the crew sums up, for me, the arrogance of the presenters.

I don’t like them and I don’t like the show. But, unfortunately for many, the right to free speech includes the right to cause offence and to be offended; otherwise both Frankie Boyle and Jim Davidson would be in prison. 😀

And another presenter with an ego made the news this week (and please move on to the next paragraph if you hate a certain swear word altho’ as usual I will employ a cunningly inserted Asterix). John Inverdale is a man with such a big ego it was once said that he travelled the world so the world could see him.

Apparently (Sorry. I meant the paragraph after this) he talked about something being rose-c*nted rather than rose-t*nted. It is not a verbal aberration I can understand. It is not a malapropism (e.g. involving Jeremy *unt) nor is it even linked to roses. I may yet use it.

You can look again.

I once worked for a presenter who whipped me within an inch of my life cos his claret wasn’t at room temperature. I enjoyed it so much he never did it again.

Moving swiftly on, now that I’ve got all that out of my system.

Lisbon. Three days, two nights. In the ‘young and vibrant sector’ of the city. And I’ve printed out a Guardian article on ‘Lisbon’s new nightclubbing scene.’ Anything else I need to think about? 🙂

And I think when I return I will start fishing in different waters. Two replies this year and one of them was to block me. 😦

And to those who have sleepless nights worrying about whether the fridge light does go off when the door is shut……does it effing matter? If you aren’t going to open the door to look for something in the refrigerator, then why do you care whether the light works or not? Or are you the kind of boss who tries to catch the fridge light out when it’s off? If you know what I mean.

And my car went in for a service this week. Well, not on its own obviously. I drove it there. (‘I went to the doctor this morning with my knee.’ ‘Oh, really? I normally detach mine and send it through the post’) And it badly needed a good servicing. (Skippy, it goes without saying, removed the next sentence on the grounds I sounded pathetic).

So it got one. And I paid. And I’m not sure why the conversation went down the road it did but we were talking about our respective jobs and my pay-off line was ‘I’d rather work with drunken Somalis than sell cars.’ The entire showroom laughed.

And finally, in the week when the Scottish party leaders sought credibility in a student hustings by confessing to the odd spliff in their student days, can I just say that I did no drugs – other than alcohol – at university. Anything and everything I may or may not have tried or taken, smoked or snorted, happened from my mid-thirties onwards, but that dear listener is a tale for another day……..and I always returned to alcohol.

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it. In Lisbon. 🙂

Johnt850, I’ll get there. I might be very difficult at times but my heart’s in the right place.

As many of you know I was brought up in a town called Peterhead, part of the North East corner of Scotland that was thrown to the wolves that were the energy companies in the oil and gas heydays (sp) of forty years ago. A few days ago I saw a copy of a brochure about Peterhead harbours where I worked student holidays and immediately after graduation from my first degree.

There is a myth perpetuated by the rainforestriverman that I worked in the Harbourmaster’s Office and pimped for some of the local women who worked as prostitutes. I never worked in the Harbourmaster’s Office. It was the Collector of Shore Dues’ Office. And there was a drink in it for me.

In a small town like Peterhead, everyone knew your business. I once went with a girlfriend to the local GP’s to collect a prescription and my mother knew about it before I even got home. She was wondering what we were doing. And getting.

But the harbours were different. My father was well known but he had no idea of the netherworld that existed, particularly after the oil came to town. It was the first opportunity to create a life away from home even when still living there.

Maybe I should talk about it on another occasion, but one memory comes back. At the age of 20/21 I was in charge of a supply boat base at night if there was nothing scheduled to happen. I ran a tight base but one night a Russian sailor came to my eyrie and asked to phone home (Moscow). Technically I shouldn’t have allowed him and there were problems in making the connection, but he had an answer to the waiting time. A bottle of vodka.

Well the night passed fairly quickly. (Where did that oil rig come from? It wasn’t there when I started shift) and I rolled home about 8 o’clock – shift finished……and as I entered the family home, I uttered those words which every young person says when they go home; ‘I’m just going to bed. I’m tired.’…at 8 in the morning!…….Was there a lesson to be learned even then?

This is/these are the Kings of Leon.

Waiting for the fire to light Feeling like we could do right Be the one that makes tonight ‘Cause freedom is a lonely road We’re in control (Calvin Harris)

March 6, 2015

And so, dear listener, I was recently in a road rage incident with painful consequences. To be honest, I think we were both at fault. She had double-parked (with hazard warning lights on) in a fairly wide street in lower Hyndland; I had let some approaching cars go past and then there was a space and the next car flashed its lights, so I thought I was good to go.

But I wasn’t. It kept coming. I think I did okay by just knocking her driver’s mirror but she was after me. So I stopped. Now, I was ready to give my side of the story once we had started speaking BUT my driver’s door wouldn’t open. So she had to open it for me thus giving her a major advantage. So I listened and I apologised but she had her point to make.

And the ‘painful consequences’? Her final words……’you’d think at your age you’d know better.’ 😦 😦 😦

So if you think that last week my self-esteem was low down, you ain’t heard nothing yet. 😦 😦 😦

My writing is so bad that, at the project where I work, I have been told to print things. I recently had to ask on fbook if anyone knew what I was doing on 21st April cos all I could make out was D (and as it turned out to be a female name that was quite embarrassing) and then there was Lisa.

I’m friendly with two or three of the Post Grads at the most recent Alma Mater (and yes, they are female). On Monday I mentioned to them that I was meeting someone who had spoken to them last week called Lisa (as well as Keiran). No, came the well-informed reply, there was no Lisa. I looked again at my notes and two minutes later I realised…….It was L129. NOT LISA. It was the room number.

‘Have you got out the wrong side of bed?’ they politely asked. ‘No’, I said. ‘The wrong side of the car,’ I explained. ‘I had to crawl over to the passenger side and get out that way.’

Which isn’t really a problem, is it? Except that I seemed to keep switching the radio on without turning a key when I transferred seats. However, I have a jacket which has got those toggly, stringy bits that you tie together when it’s raining. I had shut the door on the string and couldn’t get the door to open. Pure panic!

So somehow I had to take my jacket off. Which was not easy. It has been a long time, dear listener, since I took clothes off in a Clio. And certainly not in the ASDA car park. That I can remember. And then emerge from the passenger side in torrential rain and go and open the driver’s door and get the jacket.

Can I just say that the jacket is one of those sailor-type ones which I picked up in a Byres Road charity shop but the zip wasn’t working. £6 to a sweat shop at the top of Crow Road and it was.

And then there was the problem of the water being off. I looked at the Scottish Water website and saw that the affected area was Bearsden, which meant it affected us as well but they don’t like to say Summerston in the same sentence. My shift that night had been changed with my approval from 9.30 pm to 8 am to being from 8 pm to 6.30 am – a good shift. However I do like a shower before I go out. The tap gurgled hopefully but by 6.30 pm I could wait no more – the Pyrex jug was used to pour a medium warm daud of water over my head……Thirty minutes later, there was a full stream of consciousness cascading through the taps…..

And finally, I did watch Cannabis Live on 4OD and apart from seeing a former BBC colleague called Mylo who is now a top music producer(altho’ BBC Scotland had used him as an Assistant Audience Researcher), I was left with quite a few thoughts; Richard Branson saying that without cannabis some music might have been a lot shorter (come on…. Tubular Bells made you a fortune); why would you go into an MRI Scanner when you’re stoned and apprehensive? And where are Jenny Bond’s ‘pleasure centres’? 🙂 🙂 🙂

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it

Johnt850, a wee bit apprehensive about the future – again.

So the phone went and I was on the train and it was the general BBC number and the guy at the other end said he had come across my phone number as a ‘cancer survivor’ on their database and would I be interested in taking part on the end of a phone in BBC Radio Scotland’s Morning Call on the subject of how you feel after you’re given an All-Clear from cancer. And I said, YES.

It’s something I’ve spoken about a lot. The time when people who have come through the cancer are at their most vulnerable is when they get the All Clear. Up to that point they’ve had the benefit of those fabulously fabulous people at the NHS; family and friends have been with them all the way; and they know there will be sunshine when they get the All Clear.

No. There ain’t no sunshine. But a whole life to re-build and an identity to re-establish. It’s a wee bit like coping with life after alcohol. But there is life out there.

You have no idea of the pride with which I answered Louise White, the presenter, when she asked whether you would know whether I was a cancer survivor. No, I said, I work with the homeless; am applying for a PhD; and abseiled down the Titan crane with the good Dr W (except I gave W her Sunday name)

I have felt a bit of a pest recently for all sorts of reasons but, I’m afraid that’s me for the rest of my life. I’ve changed identity too often.

The band’s called All Time Low and it’s a long time since I’ve been there. I’m on the way back up. It’s Central Station all over again!!!!!