Archive for May, 2015

It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul (W.E. Henley but suggested by Craig Williams)

May 29, 2015

And so dear listener, a friend of mine (Fenton of that ilk and I’m tempted to play THAT YouTube video) asked if I would do a wee prostate cancer presentation to some young female student young female nurses at her college in East Kilbride. There was something about the offer I couldn’t refuse. 😉

The first time had been cancelled cos of my recent throat virus but was re-arranged for this Tuesday just past. I thought it’s an important part of the young female student nurses’ education. So I drove out with instructions on how to get there printed out like I usually do. 🙂

First problem.

I was going through more roundabouts than were on the instructions. I stopped at a bus stop and spoke to a lovely silver-haired lady. She gave me instructions that would take me thru the town centre where, it turned out, she was going. I offered her a lift.

She said, ‘Just drop me at the roundabout.’ I said, ‘Is there a bus stop or lay-by there?’ She said, ‘Naw, but if you put on your hazards and let me jump out quickly, we’ll be fine.’ 😀

We were. But the Range Rover was close.

I have now bought a new Sat Nav. I had one before but lost it. 😦

Second problem.

I arrived at the roundabout for the Students’ Entrance (for this presentation with young female student nurses Skippy and I are being very careful with any possible innuendo) at the same time as the two fire engines. So I went round again. And parked. Illegally but far enuff in to let the Gas Board van past. Something seemed not right, I inkled. And it wasn’t. Some informal chatting with men and women in Hi-Vis jackets seemed to suggest that. I think it was their merry shout of ‘Get that f*cking car out of there!’ that confirmed it. So I went.

Later Fenton of that ilk called. Using a borrowed phone, wearing a borrowed jacket and having borrowed a fiver to get home. Premature evacuation it was not; it was a real gas leak.

So I tried again on Friday and I got there. Successfully and spoke to a smashing bunch of young female (as is their tutor) nursing students and they spoke during the presentation but the highpoint was when I was saying anything was possible after  recovery and I obvs highlighted things like my very small part in Outbreak Zombie last October

Yes, they’d been there; yes, they were frightened; and, yes, they would be going back with their scaredy cat mates 😀  .

And then I went for lunch with one of my lecturers from a slightly more successful era at UWS (Paisley) and we went to a Chinese Café in Paisley Centre which is very like the Savoy Centre in Glasgow but is in Paisley unlike the Savoy centre which is in Glasgow but should perhaps be in Savoy. 🙂

Maybe, just maybe, I had believed PhD hype and made things a tad too hard for myself by looking for something when I already had the answer to it. This one I’m letting go but not anything else this year. SERIOUS STERN FACE ICON

But in the meantime, good luck to all those marking exams, essays and assignments; as well as to all those sitting them.

And can I also say congrats to e and c on their seventh wedding anniversary. I didn’t make the wedding – humanist and at Strathblane Country House Hotel where Son Brian and KT had their reception and I’m told it was A Beautiful Service – cos I had just finished eight weeks of daily radiotherapy and was knackered, but serious congrats and thanks for all the help with the house – and more shopping to come.

And finally, like many I was confused by the symbolism of the Scot Nat MPs wearing a white rose which looked to me like an English Tea Rose. Some thought it was based on Hugh MacDiarmid’s poem of that name (‘White Rose’ not ‘English Tea Rose’); Christopher Murray Grieve’s best poem, as far as I am concerned, was ‘A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle’.  Could they not have sneaked a bottle or two in and had a wee drink in the Chamber?

The wild Scots rose was also a symbol of the Jacobite movement when the Stuarts tried to reclaim their monarchical crown by moving on London, stopping at Derby and returning home to get slaughtered at Culloden. Gotta make sure your symbolism cannot be misinterpreted, haven’t you?

Or maybe they were all going to a wedding. 🙂

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it. I am running out of excuses.

Johnt850, in a house with no workmen………. 😀

So I have signed the petition to save (as it were) the Arches. I was not a regular clubber there but have attended arts events which were a bit subsidised by the clubbing. It is difficult to argue when a 17 year old girl dies and it’s said to be ‘drug-related’ but Security is good there and drugs offenders are reported.

(I remember once being given a strange look by the Head of Security there once but that may have been down to who I was with)

In a week when a man dies, apparently after taking a legal high, and the Queen says she plans to stamp out, singled-handedly, legal highs in England, surely there is a greater than ever case for legalising and exerting some control over what goes in substances. The controls existing in Breaking Bad are not replicated in British street factories or on British streets.

Would you buy your alcohol from some unknown stranger in the street with a dodgy label on the bottle just cos it’s cheap? It’s time for a sensible approach and not seven year sentences.

This is David Guetta but don’t take it too literally. I’m very rarely late – for example.

If people don’t talk about it, then people can’t find a treatment that works (Ruby Wax)

May 22, 2015

And so dear listeners, it seemed like hours that I was pinned down – an experience almost as bad as cold turkey – and there was two of them. Wearing uniforms of some sort; using blades of some description; and only letting me up once they had done their deed. Fifty minutes I was in that freaking dentist’s chair and for one freaking filling. 😦

He kept telling me that it was hard to get to; to keep breathing through my nose; that I should raise my hand if I felt pain. I hate having anything in my mouth like that for any length of time. I kept gagging. (‘At the moment, jt, we’re just the right side of innuendo. For you, keep it male, and you’ll be okay.’ ‘Thanks Skippy. I’d hate to fluff. My lines.’)

It really took it out of me. They let me sit for a while in the actual surgery room and then in the waiting area (I must have scared the shit outa the next set of patients) and then they let me go. How to walk when you’re unsteady came back to me (or at least you think you’re walking okay) and the light headedness slowly went away.

I drove but only as far as Summerston Railway Station. I had planned to go into town to flyer Caley and Strathclyde Unies about my editing work ( ) but strength ran out after some of Caley and I decided to go home. After all the painter had said he’d be done by ten-ish hadn’t he?

He seemed to have but there were tins of paint still in the shower. I don’t mean they were having a shower – they were stored there – and some other stuff lying around so I couldn’t be sure. 😦  He had.

But a lot of work has been done to the house and I won’t bore you by telling you all about it BUT the final piece of the jigsaw (altho’ it’s one of those jigsaws that has two sides) was when the two two-seater settees were delivered (on time – from Harveys, Abbotsinch…ask for Denise) and the music in the background was an album called  Trance Nation – just wall-to-wall trance – and one of the guys kinda looked at me and said, ‘party time, eh?’ and I said ‘I like it so I play it.’

It was at that time, dear listener, that I realised I’d had two decaffs, one real, two large energy drinks and my vitamins and a couple of poached eggs – I was as high as a fuc*ing kite and loving it (once upon a time, eh?). The sleeve notes (which you don’t get with downloads really) said that the tracks ‘are guaranteed to take you up a gear and into outer space.’

Contrary to urban myth and misguidedness you don’t always need substances to enjoy trance. For me, that day, one thing and one thing only was on my mind: my new bathroom was finished. I’ve never had a new bathroom before and for the first time ever, I danced. Sober and substance-free. In the bathroom. 😀 😀 😀

And finally this week, I tried a wee bit of fishing. At one point I found my laptop switched on. It was under one of those sheets pros put down when painting, so I’d a quick glance (the meeting up idea is on current hold until after illness and house re-furb). I saw a lady of appropriate age and good looks but all that she said (apart from the standard stuff) was that she was looking for a man with a sense of humour and that she supported Barca.

So straightaway I was in with the old ‘I must have a sense of humour cos I support Partick Thistle – a team with the same colours’ line. 😉

‘Did I go to games?’ she asked and I said ‘Yes except when doing shifts with the homeless….Did she go to Barca games?’

And I’ve heard nothing since………what is it I do wrong? Any suggestions, I’ll be in the bathroom – dancing. 🙂

Cya, wearing that badge (if it’s the right one, it’s very useful to fend off chuggers) and defo going for it.

Johnt850, who used to be able to do running man and still can but maybe not in public.

Many years ago, at my first university, I played hockey to a reasonable standard. One of my colleagues was a guy called Martin Young who was brill but not brill enough to play for Scotland altho’ he was watched many times. Once he said to me that one of the hardest things he ever had to was to accept that he would never play for Scotland. I feel a wee bit like that with the PhD.

Over the last few days, as part of the refurbishment of t850Towers, I’ve been wading thru files and folders full of academic journal articles and e-mail correspondence, throwing a lot of stuff out. Somehow it went from being an ‘exciting project’ (would-be supervisor’s words) to ‘I don’t know what you’re trying to do in this PhD’ (Ibid). 😦

At some point, I lost enthusiasm and seemed to give up (I know where but that stays with me) and that is so unusual for me in the last eight and a half years or so. Some of you know how hard, for example, I worked in the dying embers of a relationship three years ago – not to save the relationship but to make sure people were okay. I’m still not sure what happened there but today’s lesson is;

I ain’t giving up on anyone or anything until I know it’s dead. No. No reason.

I never really came to terms with this Eurovision Song Contest entry on any level but I’m told when this song was performed on Blue Peter some of the lyrics had to be altered. 😉  Maybe Skippy had a hand in that;

It has taken me a fuc*ing long time to realise who I am. Stopping boozing gave me clarity (Paul Weller)

May 15, 2015

And so dear listener, it was a week when an amazingly good friend talked of her new job not being a real job cos it’s zero hours contracts (but I’ll just continue to quietly keep in touch) and when my own ragged trousered philanthropists (Kenny, Alan and Craig) unearthed some of my reporter’ s notebooks from my time in the Newsroom at the BBC.

The connection? Towards the end of my BBC time I had no contract either. In fact I was not even in an established post. One week I was paid out of the taxi account; the next out of the newspapers account. The bean counters discovered this and I was out. 😦

Then came the opposite extreme. I was teaching (?) Monday and Tuesday at college and BBC News-ing Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday morning and Sunday morning. I don’t know how I managed to keep going. Well, actually, I do but that was then; this is now.

I made money in other ways. I would earn £7.50 by answering the phones for a phone-in show and used to meet’n’greet people for Radio 5 live late at night….that paid well.

And I’m not sure how old those books are/were but there’s a helluva lot of names and phone numbers for people in Iraq (probably now dead and not sure why or how) and experts on that subject plus Andy Cameron’s (then) home phone number. No. No connection. That I can think of. But wow – some amazing memories. And the odd exclusive.

And I see that Jamie Oliver is being judged by his Channel 4 bosses – for suggesting a vegetarian cooking series. The bosses don’t think the market is out there. I would love to see a vegan episode of Master Chef. That’d be a real test, wouldn’t it? 🙂

I was just soooo impressed by the restaurant last year when me, family and friends were celebrating me being born, that prepared a special vegan menu for the good Dr W and presented it to her in a leather case 😦  Her food was smashing. 🙂

And I recently met up with uni-Sharon who was also there that night. My recent meet with her was in a café in Paisley which was like the TARDIS – so much room through the back. We were joined by a professional footballer who played for the mighty Thistle for a while, but those of us in the North Stand were never taken by him… it was strange sitting across from him. Could have been awkward.

And good luck to all those sitting exams at whatever level; and to all those marking them.

And Iain Duncan Smith’s a twunt. It terrifies me that I know someone who has offered advice to the twunt about the delivery of Universal Credit but who has never come to terms with the Working Tax Credits I receive – altho’ I suspect that’s about to end. I’ll talk about IDS below the line. 😦

But my favourite moment of the week this month was in ASDA when I heard a woman with small child callout, ‘Right, Lucozade, this way.’……I’ve heard of dogs called Shandy but a child called Lucozade……

And finally, I am often asked who reads the blog (I’m not but it’s a tired journalistic way of moving on) Actually in truth a lot of people I don’t know cos the stats show that people all over the world listen at least once and I do get lots of people contacting me saying how much they enjoy the blog; what do I think of theirs? (Given the subject matter at times, I also get some personal stuff which I try to answer)

It may just be that the fragrant Princess Nicola reads it. Last week the SNP Press Office contacted me to correct a small piece of mis-information but thanked me for telling them a wee bit more about one of their new MPS – and not new MP Mhairi Black who supports Partick Thistle and had chips and white bread for one of her first meals in the House which she ate, against the rules it seems, with the kitchen staff – so maybe, just maybe, Nicola reads it……

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it now the work to t850Towers is almost done

Johnt850, delighted at having a toilet that flushes but still feeling rundown after infection and feeling as if I don’t have a home and having tekkie problems with this blog but I’m running out of steam…..

Anyway, Iain Duncan Smith has this daft idea that people with ‘destructive lifestyles’ and on benefits should be given pre-paid benefit cards which would not be spent on alcohol or tobacco – often the sole solace for people living in poverty. Soon he will be suggesting that they should all go to an island off the West Coast of Scotland and get food drops.

(I first heard of the idea of dumping people off the West Coast when the Daily Mail was going through one of its moral panics and it wanted to dump all ravers and users of acid and ecstacy to be confined there in the late eighties)

IDS, as he likes to be trendily known, once came up with the idea that anyone caught drink driving should be ordered to go to Alcoholics Anonymous and a check would be kept on their attendance – showing an amazing lack of knowledge of that organisation. Not only is attendance totally voluntary but it’s all on first name terms so that no-one knows who you are and you’re all treated equally.

I suppose to be fair, it’s not as if there’s a clue in the two worded name of the organisation is there?

The next five years are going to be desperate for the disadvantaged; and tremendous for the sellers of Bollinger and Moet et Chandon as already seen going through the gates of Downing Street. 😦

It’s at times like this you need The Prodigy

‘I take absolute responsibility……I am truly sorry I didn’t succeed’ (Milliband)

May 9, 2015

And so dear listener, it’s still got a few days to go, hasn’t it? Nothing really settled over the weekend but not much longer to go. A few decisions left and then we know where we stand and make more plans – the next stage. 😦

In my case it’s get Jed the painter in. Then I buy the new unit, mirror and bathroom cabinet. The settees come a week on Thursday…oh, and the sink goes in on Monday. I have shower, towel rail and toilet. e, Head of Interior Design then gets involved. 🙂

I’ll talk about the election later.

I’d like to say thanks to my sister for lending me a bed in her flat. I was there for three nights and it was hell….really awful. I was using the wrong remote control for the telly and it was stuck on the BBC News Channel and even for a geek like me, it got boring. I found the right one for Thursday night. 🙂

It was weird. I didn’t sleep there on the Tuesday cos I was working. My sis has lights on timers and on Wednesday they were still on when I went to bed, exhausted by not sleeping during the day, relatively early. So Thursday night, when I went to bed having watched some of the coverage, the flat was in pitch black. I put on a light and left it on during the night.

You know what it’s like – the first night in a strange bedroom and you have to go to the toilet during the night and you forgot about the dog at the bottom of the bed……. 😦

I’ll talk about the election later

But first, I’d like to draw your attention to this exhibition. If you’re in this area it’s worth going to;

It’s described as ‘Paintings and photographs documenting the artist’s recovery from a sudden and severe heart attack.’

I’d also like to say thanks to Kenny the Shed Pimp, Craig the Spark and Andy the Plumber for working so hard and so well and parking so beautifully. They were a good team and turned up on time and helped me make decisions……..”did I really order that?” Whatever. 😉

No. They’ve done a cracking job and I coped with the laddish banter.

And mega-thanks to all those who said positive things about my decision not to progress the PhD, altho’ I was accused by a prominent business-person of a certain amount of self-pity and I’m not sure why. I, for whatever reason, could not master the research methodology and theoretical frameworks involved. I have views why not but then
I also chose to drink and then not to drink. Self-pity is blaming alcohol for your problems and an inability to get out of them cos you’re told it’s incurable and you use that as an excuse for continuing to drink;

‘poor me, poor me, poor me another drink’, as they say down AA Way when they’re being ironic.

I’ll talk about the election later.

And my little car had another wee experience. I was over at e’s where there is a large and very quiet area for parking so I parked fairly obviously and got into e’s car with e AJ, RJ and Holly the dog. And we watched as a car now known to e came into the area and began a three point turn which ended when she slowly drove into my car. I will say no more than that as negotiations are in progress but her text to me on Friday started off by saying how she couldn’t believe how all those people down South had voted Tory. ‘Didn’t they know what that would lead to?’

So e and I and her family drove down to the Botanic Gardens and there is a nice walkway on the North side of the gardens which is improved by climbing over a fence and getting down to the river itself. Okay. I found getting over the fence tricky (if you have to do a leg over gag keep it tasteful) but it was really good fun….stopping AJ from falling into the river and ‘if your mum says it’s okay, RJ, for you to climb that tree, then obviously it’s okay with me. Just don’t fall when I’m watching you.’

But good fun and then we got back to my car and discovered it was more than scratches….. 😦

I’ll keep you posted.

And finally, can football teams stop doing guards of honour to teams that have done better than them this season before they play them? Why not lie down on your backs and let them tickle your tummies?

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it, especially now I’ve got more time.

Johnt850, looking forward to my first shower in the new bathroom

Ah, yes, the election.

Can I say congrats to Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik, a woman who has been a member of more political parties than football clubs who I have supported and who has been elected at the expense of a damn good constituency MP called Gordon Banks; to John Nicholson, Brendan O’Hara and Neil Gray, who managed to successfully hide their BBC backgrounds (doncha wish conspiracy theorists were consistent? Not a single complaint about any count so far); and especially to a guy called Patrick Grady for whom I voted?

Yes. I voted for him and not the party. Glasgow North needed a change and I felt he offered the best possibility for that. 🙂

Y’see if I had my way, not only would Robert Tressel’s Ragged Trousered Philanthropists be required reading at primary level but also Tom Paine’s Rights of Man. I’m sure well-known Partick Thistle fan Mhairi Black MP would agree.

And this is the closest I can find to a song for Kenny, Craig and Andy, this week’s ragged trousered philanthropists at t850Towers :

Why is a mouse when it’s spinning its web? (Anon)

May 2, 2015

And so dear listener, I have decided/it has been decided not to progress the PhD notion. It is for the best. Academia is not ready for me. I am, after all, the man who pointed out the major flaw in the whole Pavlov’s Dogs fiasco is that no-one bothered to ask the dogs. How can that be taken as a serious piece of research when the most basic of questions is not asked?

And this Schroedinger’s cat nonsense. Shove a plate of IAM’s chicken curry for cats under its nose and see what happens.

There does seem to be a tendency to ask too many questions. One can only guess at the process Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tensing would have had to go through if they had had to get academic approval for their attempt on Mount Everest.

“So, tell us again, why you want to climb this Mount Everest thing.”

“Because it’s there and no-one’s done it before.”

“But why do you want to climb it?”

“Because it’s there and no-one’s done it before.”

“But why do you……?”

“Och, just forget it and we’ll buy the Queen a wee vase for her coronation.”

No, their reasons are good and valid and replicable so I accept them. But so are my ideas. Watch this space or your TV monitor. The last radio programme I produced was sold on the question, ‘Why don’t men talk about prostate cancer?’ (seven fuc*ing words) and BBC Radio Scotland got an hour’s worth of programming that was described by the Head of Radio Scotland as ‘potentially life-saving.’ And I got £1,600 for eight weeks work. 🙂

Anyway, Glasgow Caley Uny’s closer. There’s a guy there……….

Oh, and the Head Zombie’s a student at UWS (Paisley). We are close to walking again. Strathclyde Park (and the rest of the world) beware. 😛

Moving on – slowly but accepting their decision.

I would like to put on record my thanks to the good Dr W and Jenny H for all their help and encouragement and to e for the original thought. I will soon be having a sale of plastic wallets as I throw out all the draft versions of the idea.

But the idea of making people more aware of what actually is involved in working with people with alcohol dependency was added to by stupid Victoria Derbyshire on all BBC channels. She had an item about alcohol treatment in Manchester and the Professor was talking about the relative cheapness of alcohol and its availability, to which she replied, ‘But of course alcoholics would want to get alcohol no matter how expensive or difficult it is to get, wouldn’t they?’

As the good Prof explained, there is no single mass of people who could be described as a single entity – alcoholic – and most professionals in the treatment area talk about different levels of dependency. Derbyshire might have seen me once as an alcoholic – nowadays I just don’t drink. The only people I know who describe themselves as alcoholics are members of Alcoholics Anonymous….. and those who describe people as alcoholics are ostriches whose thinking is pre-sixties. (It’s a kinda football reference)

And speaking of Dr W (several paragraphs previously)…there had recently been a slight communication breakdown which was of slight concern but it would appear that she has inherited (?) a phone from her son and had problems transferring addresses, etc. Now I think most teenage sons would spend time cleaning out the browser history and anything else that might link them to dodgy sites before handing over their phone to their mum. In the case of the W family and their food proclivities these would be McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC.

The rainforestriverman had similar tekkie problems. I pay a man to do it for me. I have no problems, but am poor. 🙂

Like the refurbishment of t850 Towers which goes critical this week. In fact I don’t want to think about it but I am back at work after an acute throat infection – which helps.

And finally…. well, this week, there is no ‘finally’…there is only the way ahead.

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

Johnt850, M.Sc, Post Grad (two of them), M.A.

So, badges. I’ve often been asked about this and the reference in the pay-off line. There are three

The first is the Referendum Yes badge in Partick Thistle colours. It will be a long time before that is needed again and if that’s why people are voting SNP this time around, it ain’t going to happen. We may have a re-run of the General Election to come as well as the Scottish Elections next year and Nicola can only go for it if she is sure she is going to win….

The second says Sex God and it was given to me by the good Dr W. No. No reason. 😦 

The third is a Prostate Cancer badge and I recently gave one to the blogmeister (to my friends at Prostate Cancer HQ, he will be making a donation) and he has been wearing it……and people have been asking him about it. He tells them my story and some other related stuff.

And I think that’s why I find academia hard. I am not a statistic or a reference; I cold turkeyed over eight years ago and I came through bad cancer. I am what you lecture about. Me and so many others.

‘I am a free man; not a number’. Now where’s that from?

So how do I feel about the lack of a PhD in my life. The Who speak for me on this occasion. Daltry with my hair and my body