‘Breathe the air and remind yourself that your heart beats to keep you alive.

And so, dear listener, last Saturday night I had been invited to join a group of people for a night of karaoke in a bar in Renfield Street. My shift finished at 7.30 and the plan was to wander along to join them. They would have been there, apparently, from six o’clock onwards. It was a nice night and I went for a very long walk instead along the Broomielaw (as it was once known) before walking up the Saltmarket (as it is still known) and through the Merchant City (as it wants to be known) before catching my train back to Summerston. There I sat on each of my new settees for five minutes each as I watched TV for the first time in ages. I felt so relaxed. 🙂

Later on that night they moved to a pub called The Maltman which was described to me later as ‘a meatmarket. John you’d have loved it.’  I have no idea what they meant.

A day and a bit later I got a msg at six o’clock in the morning to say that Charles Kennedy had died.

I had known Charles many years ago through involvement in Glasgow University and various linked interests there. He was good fun and very easy to get on with and there was a very sharp brain there which cut to the chase almost naturally.

This was shown a few years later when he co-presented a show on BBC Radio Scotland of which I was one of the producers….he and Colin Bell were a dream partnership. Many presenters get briefings, some get a list of suggested questions and I’ve even seen some given expected answers. All Charles and Colin needed was the subject; which guest was for; which guest was against; and which guest had studied it and they were off.

And the show finished at two and, in those days, the BBC Club was open until half past two and there was a headlong dash to get there by three people just out of studio but Danny the manager would close the doors bang on time and open again at five…except for those of us who had been locked in all afternoon. Happy daze.

Our paths continued to cross until about maybe eight years ago when I stopped attending certain events and decided to go for a walk instead. Serious broadcasting’s loss was politics’ gain.

And then, the day after, I met Gerry who, like me, had successfully come through the cancer experience. He had recently done a presentation at the Golf Day of Keyline the Building Supplies company who, over the course of the last ten years, have raised over a million pounds for Prostate Cancer. He used a Keyline golf ball to explain a point in a graphic and brought the house down. Would it have worked with last week’s young female student nurses? Not sure but I was happy with what I did. 😀

And it was Gerry who told me that Alastair Campbell had died. I had met people like Gerry and Alastair through my attendance at Maggie’s Cancer Centre’s Prostate Cancer Self Help Group altho’ I knew I was of a slightly different generation from many of them when I mentioned the Foo Fighters and got blank glances.

After I left the group I met Alastair about once a year in a bar in Hyndland for a drink or two but on a leafy Summer’s night. In fact it would be round about now that I’d be trying to set that up. But not now and a guilt sets in…and a lot of thinking gets done. Neither Charles nor Alastair were good friends in the sense of keeping in touch on a regular basis but I could meet them at any time and just pick up the conversation………it’s why I’m such a pain in trying to keep in touch with people – and may just have overdone it recently………but both were good to me in a lot of different ways.

My thoughts are genuinely with both families – one thrust into the media spotlight when much of their recent life had been private; the other I’d never met.

And finally, on a lighter note, the ‘soft furnishings’ shopping is planned for this Tuesday. Brahead watch out! Rhona’s coming to get you! For a two year old she has immaculate taste. 🙂

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it – once the soft furnishings are out the way.

Johnt850 – who will tell you next week what I was thinking about. Maybe.

And so if you believe that alcoholism is a life-long disease then you will believe that the only way to deal with it is a twelve step programme such as that espoused by Alcoholic Anonymous. The second step, for example, reads;

(We) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

All other forms of help (Cognitive Behaviour Treatment, Motivational Interviewing, Brief Interventions and personal decisions to stop or cut back – the most common) see alcoholism/alcohol dependency as a behavioural thing and have done so since research in the sixties started to show that many people, classed as alcoholics, did actually return to controlled drinking.

Why do I go on so much about this? I saw Newsnight the other night and a woman seemed to be arguing that the problem lies with alcoholism and alcoholics not coping. No. It lies with alcohol and our attitudes towards it. Cancer is a disease and I got good and proper help from professionals. Addiction is a behavioural choice and I got good and proper help from professionals. The Twelve Step Programme works for some; but not all. AA is about sharing under a certain set of circumstances and they are ‘anonymous but not invisible’; I believe in sharing as much as possible and so do so many others.

Tonight’s closing piece of music is much more twee than I have ever chosen and it does not apply to me. Even in the early days of being a divorced dad, I was always there for my son to the extent that I turned down offers of jobs in London and stayed in Summerston and then, through my bad times, he was there for me. He has grown up. I never will. Anyway someone requested it and it stops me playing Communication Breakdown for another week,



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