Archive for August, 2015

‘Oh magic hour when a child first knows she can read printed words’ (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)

August 28, 2015

And so dear listener, I hadn’t quite realised how hard I find it to say No – which is different from being easily influenced (but for good reasons these days). I have explained that this month has been incredibly busy on the editing/proof-reading front but I hadn’t realised how much it had taken over until I was contacted by someone, for whom I had done some work previously, who wanted me to look at 14,000 words.

‘Yes’, I said, ‘I can do that next week and you should allow up to a week for the turnaround.’

‘No’. He seemed to bellow over the e-mail. ‘I will give you it this Thursday and I want it back on Saturday. You did it for me once before in the same number of days.’

I quietly explained that that had been at a quiet time; there were people ahead of him in the queue; and I now didn’t want his business. I didn’t even suggest the Beith sub-branch which I often do.

And I put up an Out-of-Office message on the e-mail explaining that unless you were already booked in, I wasn’t taking new work. After all, there are big skies out there and I’m missing out on them. 😦

But while I’ve started talking about this can I go on to say a big thanks to some of those who teach English to foreign students (whether through ESOL or otherwise) for not teaching them about pronouns; the magic joining word ‘and’; and when you can use ‘the’ and ‘a’ and ‘an’ and when you can’t. I’m sure many do (especially those working in Italy) but I also feel the need to have a go at academic tutors who must see these errors before people get to the stage where they’re writing 12,000 words……but, hey, it gives me part of my income……… (and a pleasant smile when Wenhao Wang sends out an e-mail thanking all her tutors and friends for all their help whilst she’s been in Glasgow and I get included) 😀 😀 😀

But there’s a lot of downtime as well while you’re waiting for promised work to come in but you don’t want to take on big projects (there’s a fence needing painted) in case ‘the work’ comes in so you decide to do wee projects instead – like updating your folder with all your passwords in it (all the updates are on Post-Its) and forgetting that you’d changed its name from Kleenex Tissues to Crusty Socks (No. No reason) and the realisation now that I’ll need to change it again. Any suggestions? 😉

But the other thing that gets me is when the ‘client’ says, ‘but my tutor says I’m not allowed to split an infinitive. It’s a rule of grammar.’ And unfortunately the tutor is always right even when he/she is wrong. The only rule of grammar is ‘do what you have to do to get your message across as best you can.’

If you want to boldly go where no man has gone before, you go for it. 😀

The actual only other rule of grammar is that there are reasons why we have apostrophes, commas, full stops and semi-colons but don’t worry I’ll keep you right on those.

(One that’s slipping through at the moment is ‘till’ instead of ‘‘til’ when people are trying to shorten ‘until’)

(And my thanks to top journo Eamonn O’Neill for the opening quote)

Moving on. To Renfrew Town Hall (the line-dancing capital of the West of Scotland). Where I was, for work, for a Service Users’ Forum. Basically it was about the Fortieth Anniversary of Blue Triangle and a big event that’s coming up – for which I am slightly behind in what I have to do for it. 😦 😦 😦

And when we’re discussing Glasgow’s links with the Wild West, my parents used to tell me that I once met Roy Rogers but without Trigger. All of you (with maybe a couple of exceptions) please feel free to fire up the Google and see who I’m talking about but please ignore the dates mentioned. It was at least ten years later. 😉

And I do use brackets a lot – don’t I?………………………..

No. The point is……for the second time in a week (or so) I was on a bus. And like last week’s tour of Lanarkshire it was very instructive. Do buses do this kind of journey every day or was it ‘cos the driver knew I was on?

From the stop across from Lauder’s Bar in Glasgow all the way to Renfrew Town Centre, we travelled in comfort and style….through Govan, through the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (altho’ I noticed some of the bits still retain names from other hospitals which were closed to justify opening such a big place) and then through Braehead. It was the same on the way back but in reverse. No. I don’t mean he drove the bus in reverse gear. Somewhere he turned it round. And I got strange looks from other people when I got off and said thanks to the driver. It could have been more embarrassing. I could have organised a whipround.

Tbh, I’m not sure if buses will catch on but it was nice to be a passenger for once. 🙂

And finally, I was concerned that the most hated man in this blog David Laws (the Lib-Dem MP who claimed upwards of £30,000 rather than admit he was homosexual but he did pay it back so that was okay but just try that in ASDA if you lift something without paying for it cos you’ve been sanctioned by the so-called IDS) was going to be mentioned in the recent Honours List but wise counsel prevailed. And I despair that The Scottish Government cannot make any decisions about broadcasting in Scotland but the unelected Lady Moan can. 😦 There’s a lot of Tories who don’t understand her selection

Cya, still wearing that badge (altho’ I almost lost the current one) and why not keep it simple.

Johnt850, needing to check out whether my own business insurance covers me for work.

And the reason they’re called refugees is because they’re seeking refuge from oppression, war and tyranny – Like the Jews did in the Thirties.

And Rangers’ latest superstar (Gedion Zalalem) was born in Berlin to Ethiopian parents.

No. No reason.

And I suspect this is the song that line dancers hate the most!

“If you walk across my camera I will flash the world your story.” (Woody Guthrie)

August 22, 2015

And so dear listener, this may well be a blog of two halves – adventures in Scotland’s largest theme park and the growing move to persuade me to get a dog, but I intend to combine it with the odd shout-out such as:

No, Doreen H, the pink hippo is mine!

(You get the idea?)

Let’s start with the adventure. From time to time we take some of our service users on outings. Sometimes they’re educational and one time I was involved with a bunch of former (mostly) heroin users who came with me and another worker to Kelvingrove Art Galleries. Now I love the place and can easily combine a visit there with a meal in a place like Firebird (unless I fall over) but for me, this was an amazing experience cos I was seeing it through the eyes of people who’d never seen an art gallery and I was asked questions I couldn’t answer. We kind of wander through such places kidding on we know things, don’t we, when we don’t. And not everyone has been to a museum or art gallery. 😦

Anyway this was a trip to M & Ds where I and some others, including the good Dr W, had been zombies and some really good memories returned.

Anyway our folk went on various rides and our expectation as workers was to wander round and keep a general eye on things but the spirit of adventure never goes away, does it? And it is exactly one year since Go Ape and almost one year since the abseiling…… I had to do it. I went on the Tornado. How can I describe the experience?

Well you get strapped in and then it goes up the railroad thing and then, OMG, it drops down to the right at one helluva speed and OMG, I’m going to fall out and then OMG, why is Strathclyde Park on top of me and OMG it’s not. I’m upside down and then I’m not and then I’m upside down again and them OMG it’s leaning to the right and OMG it’s going back up again and OMG, why is it so fast and OMG, it’s slowing down and nobody’s whiteyed (i.e. been sick) and it slows to a halt and then it calms down. 😦 🙂 😦 🙂

And I get off and walk very slowly and with a white face, which was in direct comparison to one I had had earlier…but it was an adventure. The pirate ship wasn’t quite the same but I have a blood bruise where the person sitting next to me grabbed my wrist in panic.

And it was all fine and very educational; I was on three buses and also had a very small cut to my head but that was from a branch as we took a very picturesque route to M & Ds and Amazonia is brilliant. 🙂

Janice W, I haven’t burnt down the log cabin just yet!

And then there’s the dog thing….

Parents of the World! Beware! Chihuahua the Movie is scary and has shapeshifters and people arising from the dead and just be careful. That’s all I’m saying.

Y’see one of my co-workers is suggesting I get a dog cos she’s had a couple of dates following her dog walking activities at night and she recommends getting a dog from a sanctuary cos they’ve been treated and may well be trained. And I was out with friend e and her daughter RJ walking Holly the Dog when a jolly interesting lady walked past and I turned to look at her and she had turned to look at….Holly the Dog. Not my first riddie of last week and not my last.

So it seemed a good notion when e offered to let me dogwalk every so often until, well, if you’re sensitive, then look away now, me and RJ watched fascinated as e had to wash the dog in a very sensitive place cos it was having, well, bowel problems…..I had considered a takeaway curry on the way home but it soon turned into toasted cheese. But the notion is turning over in my brain.

And finally, a big Shout Out to BBC Al, the blog’s bad taste pal and his lovely wife, Catriona:

I’ve been to the dentist you recommended and I came away smiling. Thank you. 🙂

Cya, still wearing that badge (but it’s a new one so thank you J) and still keeping it simple but ‘going for it’ may return. No I haven’t a clue either.

Johnt850, the taste of adventure is returning. Now all I need is……..

So, if the PhD had gone ahead, then it would have been looking at alcohol education in a very wide sense which is jolly interesting cos this week saw the publication of stats which showed that ‘more than 1100 Scots drank themselves to death last year’.

Now it has been shown globally in those countries that have adopted it that Minimum Unit Pricing has a major effect in cutting the number of deaths and reducing hospital admissions and alcohol related crime and the Scottish Government is all for it but the Scotch Whisky Association is against it and I wanted to place them on my list of potential interviewees but I was told there was no point as we already knew their public stance.

Y’see there’s a big difference between some academic interviewing and the journalistic stuff. I’d like to have asked them whether their real interest was the continued maximisation of profit. After all the Association’s spokesperson apparently ‘pointed out that alcohol-related deaths (were) down 25 per cent since an all-time high of 1546 in 2006’.

Maybe if we had Minimum Unit Pricing, even fewer people would have died….but I’m no longer in a position to put that to them.

Now, to finish, a track from a singer, recommended by J the philosopher, whose name I didn’t recognise, but I recognised the song (No. I know J’s name. I meant the singer.) She’s Brandi Carlile and the words are nice but look at the amazing skies…….and doesn’t one of the pics look like the Forth and Clyde Canal in one of its leafier bits?

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” (H.P. Lovecraft)

August 14, 2015

And so dear listener, earlier this week I sat as my creative juices failed to flow and looked at the screen in a mild state of panic. I was not too sure if I had anything to write about. Seriously. I had not been at my usual (paid) gig with the homeless for some time; I didn’t really want to talk about the football; I had received pioneering tales of an explorer’s life in Canada which I’m kinda keeping to myself; and also from a family in Robin Hood territory seeming to do things more dangerous than any abseiling or zipwiring done by myself and the good Doctor W, some time back.

The editing is highly seasonal. August and May are the big months and this has been the busiest August since I started. Yup. The money’s good and most folk pay up without any real hassle but there are limits to the number of times I want to hear about quantitative and qualitative models (Bryman 2001). After all it was my inability to cope with Research Methodology that deterred me from applying for a PhD. 😦

And you have no idea what it’s like to wake up at half past six, look at your phone (eh?) and realise it’s not the final 2,000 words you were expecting but 12,000 words. But you get up and wander through to the laptop, tell Skippy she shouldn’t be looking at those sites and get on the e-mail…….and it’s a Chinese person writing about the democratisation of China and in the Acknowledgements, there’s this little gem;

‘Finally, this is for those who resist injustice, promote human rights and democratization in China.’

And you want to do your best for the writer (and get paid as well). (I replaced the middle coma with ‘and who’)

Moving quietly on.

This week’s Faux-Pas of the Month was telling a friend, who was in Gartnavel for a urological prostate examination, to keep his pecker up……… 😛

I was on standby to do some media stuff for Prostate Cancer UK and the decision not to give Enzalutamide to men who are unable to take chemotherapy – whereas this drug could help see that their lives are prolonged – simplistic description, I know. I just know how fortunate I was in my treatment for this cancer and think giving realistic hope is good. But I was pleasantly surprised when I got a breakdown of coverage from the charity’s PR who attached this cryptic message;

P.S. Did you know you can buy instant chip shop curry sauce from ASDA. I did so recently, but have yet to see how it compares to the real thing… 🙂

Trust me, that is really un-nerving cos I have no idea what I write at times – but I do do it sober and substance free (and it relates to last week’s blog)

I did think of writing about Michelle Moan. I am ambivalent about the Honours List but it does mean something to those who accept honours and who stay quiet about them until announced – such as my hairdresser’s husband who uses a wheelchair and has been awarded a bit of the Empire or something for services to Sport and Charity and who did keep quiet about it.

Now who could have leaked Michelle’s possible elevation to the peerage to the press? And I hope it gets withdrawn. And I make no comment about any speculation about her tax arrangements.

And I don’t have a lot of time for wife-cheater Paul Hollywood and his smutty innuendos about cracks (in their cakes) when talking to women. And I certainly don’t need to be patronised by him by explaining to me what arlettes are. I mean surely everyone knows they are (read it slowly, Skippy) wafer-thin reverse puff-pastry biscuits that hail (slowly Skip) from south-west France.

And I make no comment about him being confused about what a crofter is/does by calling them peasants, but it does say a lot about his attitude towards people.

And finally, since the above is doom and gloom, here’s a joke;

I went into Gregg’s and bought a sandwich. Then a mate noticed that it had a blue wire, a red wire and a yellow wire sticking it out and said, ‘It might be a bomb.’ So I phoned the bomb squad and said that I had this sandwich with a blue wire, a red wire and a yellow wire sticking out and I was worried in case it was a bomb.

‘Is it ticking?’ they asked.

‘No,’ I said. ‘It’s cheese and onion.’ 😀 😀 😀

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple.

Johnt850, getting real sick at looking at this screen but, hey, it’s money.

When you talk to people who have had bad experiences you often ask, ‘have you recovered?’ expecting a simple ‘yes’ and the same question could be put to me. The cancer? Yes – except I always worry. The alcohol dependency? Yes. I just don’t drink.

But I do know that those who take the Twelve Step Programme seriously (and not everyone who goes to AA does) see themselves as being continually in recovery and I respect this. I was recently talking to a female acquaintance of mine and our respective stories spilled out cos of what we were talking about.

We shared our experiences before we went into a meeting and benefitted from the experience. The hug at the end cements the share. And I walk away with a smile on my face. There is a brilliant, spiritual feel to recovery. I once spoke to a former BBC colleague in Central Station about her dad’s recovery and how much it meant to her and her family – also following the Twelve Step Programme.

The big thing is that we find something that helps and means something to us. And walk away with a smile on our face. It’s a choice. It’s our responsibility.

This is Dan, aka Withered Hand, from the King Creososte gig of a few days ago but without Pam.

Nobody dances sober, unless they happen to be insane (HP Lovecraft)

August 7, 2015

But I’m not so sure I agree with that.

And so dear listener, this week I was reunited with a culinary delicacy that I had not had for a long time. I try not to identify the location of where I work other than to say it’s in the Charing Cross area of Glasgow, but those of you who frequent Sauchiehall Street at about three in the morning will be aware of a top-notch eatery called The Bistro. It’s the kinda place where you can order a cheeseburger with donner (sp) sauce with chips’n’cheese on the side. I usually bring in pieces (Becky from North London – if I lose you in this, and the next, paragraph, worry not).

One of our guests was going over there and took some orders. She came back and said, ‘I got a free chips’n’curry sauce, jt. Do you want it?’ to which I said yes.

Michel Roux, Michael Smith and Kimberley Wyatt (she cooks), eat your heart out. There is a certain taste to chip shop curry sauce isn’t there? (Vinegar to dilute it) I ate with gusto (a pseudonym to protect a true identity) until that moment when you realise that the chips have drowned in the sauce and it is curry/potato mush you are devouring…….but bliss.

You can keep your jus

and your ‘French ragout’.

Curry sauce is magic.

About four or five years ago (I was a meat eater) I had some thoughts about a radio documentary about women who work as prostitutes and the dangers they were being put in by closing the saunas. One night a contact invited me down to meet some of the ladies of the night and their willingness to appear (if the programme was commissioned) was smashing. I got back to my car and got a burger and onions from the van the other side of Charing Cross and ate it on the way up the road at about two.

Hours later I had to be in a hotel in Bellshill to meet a former sauna worker who had also expressed interest in taking part in the programme. When I got into the car the smell of burger and onions was overwhelming and I sprayed after shave all over it – which was a mistake. I was overwhelmed. The conversation with the former sauna worker was good and she didn’t need a lift up the road. I travelled home in a fog of Calvin Klein Eternity and optimism.

The programme was never commissioned. And I became a pescatarian.

But the retro theme continues and social media are oft blamed for the proliferation of dangerous acts amongst young men – or ‘chicken’ as we used to call it as I grew up. We didn’t have social media then and we didn’t need to create our own danger in Peterhead. The North Sea was at the bottom of the road and a disused harbour wall was slightly further afield. The game, during the winter, was, individually, to run up the steps, await the next great wave and then run down the steps before it hit, sweeping you aside.

(To be honest it was not the fear of the water that made you run; it was the fear that Cthulhu, the Great Old One, would rise and overwhelm you with his many tentacles and pull you under. For those of you who do not know of Cthulhu, the water-being is described as ‘part octopus, part man and part dragon’)

And speaking of dragons, J my favest philosopher, drew my attention to an arts installation in the foyer of UWS (Paisley) Library which depicts Elizabeth Bennett (star of Pride and Prejudice) sitting on a bench reading but there is no sign of the dragon ‘oft alluded to’ in the book. Sandy Stoddart, the Queen’s Sculptor in Scotland, was a member of the Winers’ Club (as was I) and has his studio on campus……..I must draw his attention to it someday.

But, dear listeners, where is/was the dragon referred to in the book?

And finally, and still looking back, years ago I worked in a boys’ home in the south side of Glasgow (No. This is not that kind of revelation). One of the residents was called Go-Go (Gordon) and it was a time when Glasgow had a lot of small factories and warehouses just ripe for breaking into or burning down for insurance purposes. Go Go was very small for his age (14) and his role in life was to break in through the slightly ajar and very tight sky-light and let the rest of the gang in through the front door (‘Police were baffled’)

Go Go had his own solitary game of Chicken. He’d go down to the railway line and throw things at passing trains until the railway police came and chased him. One night he threw a piece of metal at a train and it rebounded off the overhead cable and bounced back and hit him on the head. He never did that again.

Cya, still wearing that badge and keeping it simple. It’s the best way.

Johnt850 and ‘No. Stephen I do not still have a Bebo page’

So, dear listener, the retro theme comes to an end for this week except to say that me and e went to see a live performance (musically) of From Scotland With Love with music from King Creosote at Kelvingrove Bandstand.

The opening act was a guy called Dan (aka Withered Hand) and his friend Pam from London whose daughters had amazing raincoats. Dan had slightly different lyrics from Monica Queen (last year’s opener for Steve Earle) in his songs and a wee bit more stage presence although he never moved from the spot.

And then the projectors started running and the most amazing archive footage (as seen in the TV doc of the same name) appeared on two screens and the enhanced Collective started playing and it was soooo smashing that e forgot about the illicit cans of ginger beer she had smuggled in…….it was that smashing.

If it comes to your area, go see it. It’s Scotland as you have never seen or heard it before – or you can buy the DVD. Becky, just do it.

This is not King Creosote; this is an obvious in-joke

Release the Sheep! (Gabby Logan – but I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that)

August 1, 2015

And so dear listener, earlier this week, I attended the latest in my last ever cancer (just to be sure) consultations but the consultants seem to have now read each other’s notes and, whilst they are people who tend to be consulted about different things, they all agree on one thing – keep taking the PSA blood test. 🙂

And yet, after I signed off from Moira my addiction worker, I heard nothing….no follow up. No. No dark and sinister conclusion – just a different view of things returning. 🙂

I’ll move myself on.

Can I, in a week which saw Sarah Harding ‘die’ on Coronation Street, say how glad I was that Kimberley Wyatt won Celebrity Masterchef. (This, btw, is a programme which, when I watch it, forces me to go into the kitchen and get a packet of crisps which could explain why I am soooooo fat) There is nothing natural in Rylan’s world, and he knows it. He is a master of Twenty-First Century Celebrity TV and he does it soooo well. But Kimberley cooks.

Many, many years ago I had a day off from the BBC…as in a ‘being sick’ day. Daytime TV was not as well developed in those days. We had no interest in buying and selling antiques; in surprising people by doing up their houses without asking them what they really wanted; or in watching rich bores looking at possible new houses at the licence fee payers’ existence.

I watched Teletubbies and went in to work (a word we used casually to describe being at the BBC and getting paid for it) the next day. 😉

‘Wow,’ I said. ‘Have you seen the size of the rabbits in Teletubbies?’ To which, as one, they replied, ‘What were you on yesterday?’ A question, which, in later years……..

I’ll move myself on.

Incidentally the catchy catchphrase as the headline comes from ITV’s Celebrity One Man and His Dog (sorry, Flockstars) which started this week just past as did their great British Bake-Off (with meat) competition – this from a company that runs wall to wall Jeremy Vine on a Saturday and still people complain about the BBC.

And finally, I didn’t make it to the first game of the season against Hamilton and I need to check the seating arrangements for the game against Celtic next week – try and avoid the smoke bombs.

New listeners and philosophers might be interested to know that I don’t go to every game for all sorts of reasons but people like Steve, Bean, Stewart, Stuart, Craig, Eric, Craig (again), John-Paul, Rab, Alan and #soulboyDaviebee (sp?) all played an amazing part in my recovery when I decided I needed out on a Saturday afternoon, but I don’t talk much about what happens. After all what happens at away matches stays between me, them and Kingsley. 😉

Anyway, there’s a lot of editing coming in (it’s seasonal) and is available through and that is taking up much paid time at the moment but I’ve also taken on a new role at my work which, as some people know, is the Blue Triangle Housing Association (I am basically a night-time project worker in supported accommodation for the homeless which has its moments).

It’s BT’s Fortieth Anniversary this year and there will be a big event (invited guests) in Oran Mor at the top of Byres Road (olde BBC rehearsal rooms in ye ancient days) in October. I am the Creative Writing Coach for the event which will involve getting in pieces of writing from Service Users (SUs) in all the projects all over Scotland, selecting some for the day and, hopefully, getting them to read it out. And I’m really looking forward to it. 😀

Cya, still wearing that badge and considering how best to keep it simple

Johnt850, in like a rocket and out like a feather. No. I have no idea what I’m talking about but apparently it’s a well-known cliché.

So, a bunch of right wing fanatics led by the evil and so-called IDS are so concerned about obese people, alcoholics and drug addicts (tabloid shorthand) claiming benefits that they are planning to stop those benefits unless they go get treatment (without specifying what that treatment should be). The so-called IDS you may remember, from previous blogs, did not realise that attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings was voluntary and, eh, anonymous.

I am ambivalent. I have, however, met people in the past who were able to tell Social Security/Benefits Agency people that these things were an incurable disease and all they could do was to go to AA (and similar meetings) to keep these addictions under control and managed to get whatever form of sickness benefit was going at the time. (I have also met people who give the word ‘illness’ (or similar) their own particular twist and have used the Twelve Steps to full advantage and work and pay taxes)

Now (maybe for the wrong reasons) we will start to examine this out-dated concept of using the ‘illness’ aspect and see it as problem that can be dealt with by lifestyle and behavioural changes – a view that’s only been around since the sixties but it does mean taking responsibility and how rarely do we do that these days?

And on that sane and sensible note, one of the many media sources on my facebook (possibly Dangerous Minds) showed some amazing artwork from Lewis Carroll’s original thoughts about Alice and I remember an exhibition at the Science Centre where you turned on and tuned into Alice and the house at right angles to itself where I was able to plank safely.

This is White Rabbit by the amazing Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane at Woodstock