Archive for April, 2015

The reporting of my death has been greatly exaggerated (Mark Twain) but that is the worst I have felt in just over eight years (t850)

April 24, 2015

And so, dear listener, the cough, cold, lurgy thing I referred to last week, ran its course this week leading to some cancellations and some meetings which took place out in the open air, but did not involve long(ish) journeys and speaking. It was not ‘man flu’ which I think needs someone to look after you and get cups of coffee and, very importantly, make decisions for you e.g. ‘you’re not well enough to go to work. I’ll phone for you.’ 🙂

It was in fact an acute throat infection which left me shattered and sounding like a seal with whooping cough.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but I’m single and live alone and part of the agony of not-wellness is the tossing and turning before you decide to call something off………for the student nurses of South Lanarkshire College, it is, hopefully, merely a postponement; there’ll be other nightshifts; and I’m not really too sure who I was going to see at the Mitchell anyway.

And whilst my PhD application is still being discussed, I’m not sure I took in anything that was said to me when I was out there earlier this week. It’s a wee bit of a struggle at present, but I ‘don’t do walking’….. unless there’s £700,000 worth of gardening leave involved.

No. I don’t give up unless there’s a good reason for doing so. But No. No reason.

But I have felt awful. I went to the doctor’s on Wednesday morning. Interesting morning because a young lady came out of another doctor’s room, shouting, ‘I’m going to sue the cow! Telling me that it’s time that I should take some responsibility for myself! I’ve got mental health problems! I can’t take responsibility!’…….

Discuss using one side of a piece of paper only.

Anyway I got called through and the first words Doctor Dave said to me were, ‘God, John, you look awful.’ So I left minutes later with a sick line, a prescription and the advice to get as much rest as possible and as much fresh air as possible……so it’s back to the days of sleeping in the Botanic Gardens. I thought they were long since past.

But I have slept a lot. A couple of nights, I slept for twelve hours; and I’ve slept lying on top of my bed for a couple of hours on a number of occasions altho’ once was to hide out of the way cos I thought there might be a row between my gardener and a neighbour……but there wasn’t.

Yes. ‘gardener’.

But I did get out once and it did meet the doc’s criteria – well most of them. I went to the pub with the blogmeister. It was the Tuesday; I drove to the Botanic Gardens and parked; walked through the Gardens and down Byres Road and met him; and into Tennent’s Bar. And I didn’t know anyone. This great fear that I’d be going back into the sce……that I’d be going back. It was sooo much different from the pub I remember from approx ten years ago. ‘Do you want ice in your orange juice?’…..That alone was a quantum leap in culture. 🙂

Two drinks tho’ and my voice had gone and I wasn’t looking forward to the walk and drive home………I was knackered. But that just leaves the Three Judges and all my ghosts are exorcised.

However – back to me – talking about me and my illness. It’s a wee bit more heroin withdrawal than alcohol, I believe (and I suspect Hogan Sinclair would agree) but I should stress that I only did one of those but have witnessed the other.

I’m eating lots of scrambled eggs; the man at the petrol station backed off when I tried to say, ‘Pump Seven’; and my house is a pit but the refurbishment continues. I have now had a lot of electrical work done and thrown out 17 million double, triple and quadruple sockets. 🙂

So I’ll leave all that here and say

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it? No. Not this week.

Johnt850, a shadow of the man I once was.

So a lot of music over the last few days and a lot of things I can do nothing about. Several things are worryng me at present but they’re best tackled when I’m feeling better. Even yesterday #soulboydaviebee kept taking one step to the side when I was trying to explain to him why I would not be in his car going to Dingwall.

So here’s Ed Sheeran, Rudimental and ‘Bloodstream’

The last hour is the longest (Carol)

April 19, 2015

And so dear listener, it may not be a line on a par with ‘the first cut is the deepest’ but for me and my neighbour across the road, Carol, and every other nightshift worker, it is so the truth. For me, it was even more meaningful the other day, when I had been asked to stay on an extra (paid) hour for a nightshift staff meeting. Time can so drag when you’re looking out for some relief.

I’ve also been doing a lot of backshifts….out in daylight…it’s weird. Going to work in daylight and back home again. In daylight. Carol, my neighbour, works with senior citizens. I couldn’t do that. I don’t have the patience. For some reason, I still have more in common with the folk with whom I work than the elderly.

End of self-assessment. 🙂

So, I went to see Irvine Welsh on Friday night in the Mitchell Library, which has, you might be interested to know, rainforestriverman, a licence to sell alcohol – after that time we couldn’t get a cup of decaff. It’s Aye Write, the annual writers’ extravaganza, here in Glasgow…. And it has little competition from any other cultural event on Glasgow other than the Museum of Water in the Botanic Gardens…..So far, I have been able to restrain myself from going.

But is Irvine Welsh culture?

Leaving aside the famous Trainspotting, Filth, Porno and the Skag Boys, his last novel was about Siamese twins having sex and the narrative was by the women, leaving one lady, apparently, at a reading in Germany, asking him how he managed to slip into a woman……oh, how the audience laffed. And so did I. 😀

He was good ‘cos he does the readings in real voices and was one of the best from that point of view that I have ever seen, but I did get annoyed at the way that the middle class, middle aged mostly women laffed whenever they heard certain words e.g. f*ck, sha* and *unt plus a whole range of East Coast words for things to do with sex…….I hear them a lot during my working day/night and I don’t find them funny…..but it’s different in a theatre with a glass of wine.

But my favourite moment came when someone (German accent) claimed to have moved to Scotland cos they’d read Trainspotting (wtf were they looking for and expecting to find?) Compare and contrast with an Embra friend (Catherine)who told me that she’d once told Irvine that Trainspotting had ruined her childhood.

And finally, it may look okay in Glasgow Centre to wear blue Spandex gloves when you’re carrying rubbish into the skips, but see when you come back with nothing in your hands other than those gloves you don’t half get some funny looks. Inspiration for Irvine Welsh?

And finally, finally, this has not been the best of blogs; nor has it been the worst of blogs but I feel awful. I did a twelve hour shift the other day and a simple frog in the throat has become a horrible phlegmatic cough. I would take cough syrup but I like the taste too much and what it does to me when I drink too much too quickly…….all suggestions gratefully received…..but I won’t be at the Mitchell tonight. I just want a decent night’s sleep.

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it….once all the work to the house is done.

Johnt850 and the harder I work, the tastier the apple gets

A few weeks ago I went for coffee with a friend and the subject of the Sandyford Clinic came up. I may explain more why on another occasion, but the Sandyford Initiative is a well-known oasis of health advice on matters sexual, drink and drug related issues in an incredibly wide sense (in sexual also read gender issues). It also plays a part in one of these wee stories of friendship I throw up from time to time – kinda like a Church of Scotland minister…which is what my mum always wanted me to be.

Let’s go back ten years when my mum had died but the alcohol dependency had already kicked in. I was ‘teaching’ (?) Public Relations to a class (HNC?) at what was then Glasgow Metropolitan College and I told them to run a real campaign and choose a charity. This was novel, particularly as all the previous tutors had got classes to do things in the College and get Brownie points. They thought I was weird. Little did they know. (My current co-workers thought the same when I first started)

Four good looking young ladies (18/19) chose the Sandyford as their charity and ran a kinda raffle to raise funds for it. The ruse was simple – ‘Guess How Many Condoms are in this Jar’. A lot of people chose 69 as the answer. Some of my boss people were critical of me for doing this but it worked………they passed with flying colours and went onto greater things.

But something else happened; three of the four became good friends of mine – Missie K, the Vampire Slayer and Blondie – and were of tremendous help in my recovery. All students were told of my cancer; these three were the first to be told of my Cold Turkey. Interesting, eh, where friends come from……..brilliant place, the Sandyford.

No. No reason.

This is Hector Bizerk. I’ll explain why next week.

You can be up to your boobies in white satin, with gardenias in your hair and no sugar cane for miles, but you can still be working on a plantation (Billie Holiday)

April 11, 2015

And so dear listeners, I very rarely talk about my work and tonight’s show is no exception, but many of you know a lot of it is at night – in supported accommodation for the homeless and they’re entitled to their anonymity in blog terms. No. It’s Glasgow at 3.30 in the morning I want to describe. Last Sunday, or Easter Monday, to be more precise.

But it was the Sunday that made it so peculiar. Facebook had basically been split into two; those for whom Christ had risen and those for whom it was a day to hide eggs and let children find them. Should have been a quiet shift and it was but it was outside that worried me.

The only time at night I should leave the project, which is at the nice’n’sleazy end of Glasgow, is to take bin bags out to the bins in the alleyway around the corner but this night I was out several times. Sunday into Monday should be a quiet night. Very few bars and clubs are open beyond midnight but one was and it was well stewarded. The one fight seemed to be well sorted out. I won’t say why I was out but the streets were not pleasant.

Broken bottles on the pavement; taxi drivers shouting insults at drunks waiting in the ranks and then pulling out when they ran after them; and some very drunk young ladies who fortunately had friends to look after them because there are men lurking in the shadows. And there was a fog coming down the street. It wasn’t a fog that was there; it was a fog that was rolling in like some of those I remember from my upbringing in Peterhead – just off the North Sea. Those effete Southerners who were complaining of smog the other day should have experienced one of those. I shivered. A lot. I was not dressed for ‘out’ but I had to be there.

And then my shift finished at 7.30 and another twelve hours of my life had passed. All every Edgar Allan Poe-ish. I have a book of all his stories – published in 1890. When I get the chance to read to my grand-daughter, I’ll maybe start with The Murders in the Rue Morgue. 🙂

Right let’s brighten up.

Actually many years ago, when I was working for the BBC down in London, I met Don McLean. He was appearing in a TV show (Nationwide – ask elderly people) and I was his Meet’n’Greet and I did ask him…..’So what do the lyrics mean in American Pie?’

‘A lot of money, John’, was his reply. 😀

So when a women’s team win the Posh University Boat Race what do they do with their cox?

And it’s really nice that Andy M has finally married Kim. Maybe, since he’s so rich, she could give up her job and follow him to some games…or matches…or rounds…or whatever they’re called.

And work goes on at t850 Towers where I now have a new porch, altho’ I do wish it was a new Porsche after the amount of money I’ve spent on my car this month. Zombie Michele, you will be pleased to hear that I no longer have to drive over bumps in the road to get it working. 🙂

And I spent some time with the latest member of e’s family – H the dog. In Victoria Park. What does H stand for? Not a lot. A very no-nonsense dog is H. She’s a labradoodle with whom I’m trying to bond……I’m more a mongrel. Which is no slight on my parents but one of my grans was illegitimate and I’m convinced my genes come from her. The rest of my family is financially inclined – even L, to whom I was once married, is a chartered accountant.

Me? An alcoholic journalist. But no longer…either. But I still have a press card. I still pay my union dues. 🙂

My/our folks were dead normal but the financial thing showed through. I was never really taught how to ride a bike or swim. Instead I learned how to count the collection in St Andrew’s Parish Church – four half crowns, three two bob bits and four shillings (ask elderly people) made a pound and you used a ruler to make sure every column of silver was exactly the same. Happy daze. We made our own fun but we were happy. 😦

And finally, as well as my usual nights (on average two a week) I’ve been working back shifts last week and this coming week getting home ‘bout eleven and eventually getting to bed/sleep. And as Jamie T said last week (kinda) there’s someone/thing on my mind and my workmen arrive dead early so I am knacked but the last two weeks of this month? – party central would be nice. Any offers? 🙂

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

So I’ve had some problems textually since I came back from Lisbon and I’m slightly worried in case I’m being blocked (accidentally or deliberately) so I’m meeting up to go drinking with the Blogmeister and he’ll be able to offer advice. In the early days of my time with Study Buddie Fi (every week a different supermarket in Ayrshire) she blocked me – by accident.

But me and the Blogmeister are going to conquer another of my fears. I have not been in Tennents in Byres Road for at least eight years (since the Cold Turkey Weekend). I only recently went back to the Curlers (Rest) and that was for an Arts and Craft Fair where Mo was showing off her jewellery skills.

I remain convinced that someone will recognise me and offer to buy me a pint. I intend to go up to the bar and order an orange juice and a pint of whatever for my mate. Well maybe not in that order. It’s in a couple of weeks’ time. I’ll let you know how I get on. 🙂

And also next week, why I’m giving up fishing but casting around for something else and I may have found it.

Billie Holiday had issues with alcohol and drugs but she was persecuted by the police – and a man called Harry Anslinger who is responsible for many of the closed minds toward drink and drugs that exist today – to the extent that she was arrested on her deathbed. She was also a fighter for civil rights. This next track combines that concern with her amazing voice.

Don’t you find, some of the time There is always someone on your mind ……. (Jamie T)

April 4, 2015

And, yes, that is the lyric I decided not to use last week. Or some of it.

And so dear listener, having spent the last few days after my Lisbonese adventure catching up with friends and family (that’s me read the Digger for this week), it’s time to catch up with so much else. At breakneck speed. 🙂

So I’d dental work done and tried to eat beans after it. Don’t!……:(

I’ve been seeing a herbalist (what’s that Skippy?)….. I’ve been consulting a herbalist for a small bladder problem which is the only residual after my cancer and alcohol issues of long ago. For the first time ever the NHS has let me down and herbs it is. Except – and I’d never thought of this – she can’t give me a tincture. So, no Laudanum then.

So I’ve been given a herbal tea which, in its natural form (not in a bag) looks like something that wouldn’t look out of place in an Amsterdam grinder. And a pill (well, more than one) which tastes like emulsion paint and it’s here I begin to wonder – at what point in the Dark Years did I try emulsion paint?

And this week’s Rant of the Month. It is a matter of weeks since my car was serviced and my mouth had a check-up and two fillings replaced. This week my car heater stopped working (even when I drive it over bumps and sleeping policeman in Strathclyde Park) and I’ve lost two more fillings. Had I list of things to tick off I would be less than happy. As it is I use post-its and I’ve been raking through the bins. And the driver’s door is still erratic.

And big thanks to e and Kenny the Shed Pimp who are acting as Project Managers in the refurbishment of t850 Towers. This house is no longer mine….it seems and for the best of reasons. I have, for the first time ever, a dining table – assembled by a financial controller and new CD storage units assembled by a joiner. But I came home the other night to find a new front door in my living room and God Knows how the couch got in that place but I put it back.

The saddest thing of all this is that every time someone comes to do something to the house, no matter how small, I insist on showing them the shelves I put up. Many years ago. 🙂

And I ate in Frankie and Benny’s the other day. In the Fort, Easterhouse, altho’ I have no idea why it’s called the Fort. I like it because it’s open to the elements and it seems more like High Street shopping rather than the Silverburns and Braeheads of this world. And Nicola Sturgeon was in there immediately before us.

And why’s it taking so long for postcards to get back from Lisbon?

And it was nice to get involved in fbook conversations with Zoe the Zombie (interesting stuff about Doctor Who) and with the blogmeister about how depression is represented in Gaming. It could be helpful in providing something to share in real-life work……even nicer when someone thanked us for sharing it on fbook..

Aye, depression. I have not followed the tabloid ins and outs of Andreas Lubitz who murdered 149 people by deliberately crashing an aeroplane into the mountains. Much of what has been said seems to centre round various diagnoses carried out several years ago but if we don’t allow people to move on, then no-one ever will. For every Lubitz there’s a t850 who, when I returned to work at the then Glasgow Metropolitan College, was cried ‘scum’ by line managers who also said alcoholics (as I termed myself then) were bound to lapse and couldn’t be trusted.

Well I think I’m reasonably well liked by folk; have not had an alcoholic drink for over eight years; and along with a colleague am responsible on a nightly basis for looking after 25 homeless people…..altho’ if anybody gets aggressive and threatening, I can call in the police.

There is nothing more alluring than three policewomen in hi-vis jackets and truncheons erect ready to kick down a door. No. No reason. 🙂

And finally, it was a difficult shift on Tuesday night; it was a smashing one on Friday.

Johnt850. Am I tough enough? Hell,….. well not all the time, and maybe that’s the fishing problem. I can’t do ‘not nice’. And that’s a big problem in life. 😦

And as regular listeners know, friendships are important to me. They’ve not only helped me in my various recoveries but have pushed me to take on so many challenges – the two people mentioned earlier are prime examples in that I’ve known the blogmeister since just before my cold turkey and Zoe is a zombie who I’ve only known (kinda) since October but who took such a brilliant pic of me as a zombie and it’s up there next to my son graduating and me with my Master’s. And I’d coffee with the rainforestriverman this week.

I always love the blogmeister’s story of, just before the cold turkey, I said to the class he was in, that I wasn’t feeling well. I would go outside for a few minutes and he never saw me again for about six months; not until I attended the End of Year Exhibition at the College. Zoe, please keep me posted on that.

So, I’m worried about someone who’s been brilliant for me and I’ve been in touch but all I can do now is to back off and see what happens. A slight tear in  the eyes, a cry of Chinese accountants and a closing track.

This is Little Eva and the Locomotion. It even makes you happy when you’re feeling low.  I’ll get the moves right yet.