Archive for December, 2015

‘If you only listen with half an ear, you haven’t a quarter of a right to criticise’ (BBC 1930) but so apposite for this age of Social Media.

December 25, 2015

And so, dear listener, it is me, Skippy, again. Again, partly by special request, but this time partly because jt has a very red face. Y’see the smug cobber used the show to tell folk not to buy the Ladybird Book of Mindfulness because he was so sure that someone already had. No. Nobody had. It’s unlike him, he said, to get thongs wrong, but when he does, he does it big time. 🙂

So this is the annual Blog Personality of the Year Award and the Strumpets are all in place for the Annual Fanfare; the red carpet has been laid (lucky red carpet)*; and the winners’ envelopes are all in front of me on the gold table. Last year, zombies and related activities and the raison d’etre behind them dictated many of the awards but raison stopped talking to jt early in the year so that’s out the window. No. No apparent reason, but another influence will play a part. Possibly. (tbh, jt never knows what he’s going to write until he writes it…….and I’m much the same)

*new listeners, he does that gag every year.

So let’s get started. Lots to get through and we begin with a brand new, and possibly once only, award; Spoiler of the Year.

And this goes to e’s wee boy, aj, who on being asked by jt if he’d enjoyed Star Wars, proceeded to give away the ending……..he was so sweet and matter of fact about it. 😀

The Team of the Year is always hotly contested but one group of guys and a woman (and her daughter) established their credentials early on. Kenny the Shed Pimp, Craig the Chippy (or was he the Spark?) and the other guy, e (as interior designer) and her daughter rj, helped transform t850 Towers with the help of a substantial donation from the Bank of jt’s Sister. Special mention must go to the very patient self-scan operator in Sainsbury’s Braehead. jt honestly didn’t know that rj was the unexpected item in the bagging area. But he was told to come back any time as long as she was not on shift.

Lifetime Achievement is always difficult because jt is never too sure who has been recognised before. This year, however, it has been easy. It goes to Uni-Sharon, not just of what she has achieved in her life and her amazing weight loss with the help of Herbalife (and other dietary supplements are available but they didn’t seem to work), but because any time jt talks to her the number of people living in her and husband Kenny’s house is never the same as it was the last time he asked. And she just smiles. Well done, Shazza. x

So, now for the actual Personality of the Year. And it’s worth saying that, apart from the first year when then three year old Stella won it, no actual person has ever won it.

So, in Third Place (and jt wrote the rest of this), and nine years ago, I never thought I’d say this but… goes to Tennent’s Bar in Byres Road. After years of avoiding the place, I’ve been in it three times this year……..and it’s very nice. No-one complained when I bought an orange juice and I did recognise a couple of faces but they did not know me……I will go back and I may attempt to re-enter the Three Judges later this year….I know no fear. 🙂

And in Second Place is this young man. Early morning, I wasn’t feeling down but if I had been, this would have brought an amazing smile to my face. Stick with Harry until such time as Tracey gets involved. It gets even better.

It takes on a Benny Hill kinda feel…. 😀 😀

So here we go. Now for the actual Personality of the Year.

Some background. One of the hardest parts of recovery is learning to relax. I still have problems in doing so. It’s partly why I attended mindfulness classes this year and have practised Acudetox and would like to do so again……and maybe I should find a Qi Gong teacher. 🙂

So I light candles and burn incense. That’s Part One.

Part Two relates to the many variations on my name…John. The one that is used by most of my colleagues and the folk I work with, including the refugees, is JohnBoy……redolent of the Waltons and Little House on the Prairie and so on…….

So when J, the blog’s favest philosopher returned from a trip to Canada and brought back an incense burner in the shape of a log cabin, I was delighted (let’s not ask about the incense sticks that come with it)……I was seriously made up. It was really nice and when it works, actual incense smoke comes out of the chimney. It’s brilliant 🙂

Next year’s plan is to get my colleagues to call me by some rich person’s name and for me to claim that the only way for me to relax is to have twenty pound notes to count and see what happens….

But the Blog’s 2015 Personality of the Year is the incense burning log cabin…….Yay!!!!!! One day there will be a prize……… 😉

And a good night has just been had by all…..

So this is the blog’s last appearance of 2015 and I have made two revolutions; one is between me and one other person. The other? To lose this grossly overweight stomach I possess……omg, it’s so gross. 😦 😦 😦

But as ever, millions of thanks to all my listeners and may your God go with you…. 🙂

Last year I introduced a Musical Track of the Year. It was Zombie by Jamie T. 2015’s Track of the Year is Walk the Moon and their Shut Up and Dance – good vid, good music and, yes, good memories with a ball rolling nicely and no need to analyse how it rolls – and thanks Skippy for helping out.

See y’all in 2016

“The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.” (George Carlin)

December 18, 2015

And so, dear listener, by special request, I, Skippy, have taken over command of this week’s blog….and because jt850 is down in Tennent’s in Byres Road again; this time with the rainforestriverman but more of that later…….but the special request was special. 🙂

Because, cobber, this is the only time this blog can ever be called truly entertaining; it’s the Christmas cracker edition of the blog. It’s got jokes like,

How does Good King Wenceslas like his pizzas?

Deep pan, crisp and even.

You can use these with young children and grandchildren. 🙂

Jt850 lives alone – I don’t know if he’s ever told you – and you can see it sometimes. He’ll have made a superb meal of toasted cheese for a friend but still feels the need to get up whilst it’s being eaten and steep the grill pan…….but there’s the serious matter of phoning in sick. It always sounds more truthful when there is someone to do it for you, but on one occasion, in my BBC days, it did confirm a rumour. 😉

What did the stamp say to the Christmas card?

Stick with me and we’ll go places.

And it’s really nice to see him writing all these Christmas cards, but I do wonder who they go to. Apparently, he bumped into e in Morrisons the other day and she said that Holly the Dog wanted to thank him for her card. And another ‘apparently’ is that e had a sheep outfit in her trolley. I don’t like to ask, but I do wonder, cobbers, about his friends. 😀 😀 😀

Why is it getting harder to buy Advent Calendars these days?

Because their days are numbered.

And then there’s J, the blog’s favest philosopher, who has a strange taste for a male Canadian crooner, who, thankfully, doesn’t seem to be available in the rainforest…….but who made jt’s Christmas shopping a lot easier and did wonders for Waterstones’ profits. (The one in Byres Road, downstairs, just up from the Hanoi Bike Shop, is pretty good as well)

What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations?


(Oh, and whilst I remember, mega-thanks to Telegraph Newspapers’ media executive Murdo Maclennan who devised all these gags and gave me, kinda, permission to use them…kinda)

And jt tells me we’re just four months away from the biggest United Nations debate on drugs for nearly two decades. This is a vital moment to shift the approach to one grounded in health, compassion and human rights, rather than criminalising people for absolutely no good reason at all. No doubt, jt will keep you posted. 🙂

And he says it’s this kinda thing that makes him talk about anniversaries, which is taken from the world of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s about drawing people’s attention to something that’s a lot more simple than the soaps and Ray Milland’s Lost Weekend would have us believe. If I were of the Fellowship I’d have got a cake.

Why did Santa’s helper see the doctor?

Cos he’d a low ‘elf’ esteem

But he has a great deal of admiration for some folk who’ve come in for a lot of stick this year. Call handlers. This last week, professionally, he has had to make use of 101, 111 and ultimately 999 on two occasions and they were brilliant. As they were on a personal basis nine years ago.

But it was interesting for jt last Saturday morning, standing in the laundry room of the project with its view over Sauchiehall Street, trying to explain to refugees (Muslim and Christian from Africa) what an Orange Walk, which took twenty-five minutes to go past, is all about. Once upon a time it may have been a radical Christian thing celebrating a victory which relied a lot on revolutionary and guerilla (sp) tactics. But now?

‘We’re up to our knees in Fenian blood……’.

They do a lot for charity.

Actually Saturday turned out to be a jolly interesting day.

What do you get if cross a Santa with a duck?

A Christmas quacker

And some interesting reaction to last week’s show. jt says he does not see himself as a victim. After all, he chose the alcohol. It did not choose him. Nor did he choose Charles Moore’s Vol 2 of his biography of Margaret Thatcher (and thanks j for the suggestion, but I don’t think he will read it in her voice), but it may get re-wrapped and passed on to someone who does not read the blog.

But next week’s blog is worth listening to (especially for you Uni-Sharon) when the annual Personality of the Year Awards are handed out. 🙂 but the actual award itself never goes to a person.

What do Santa’s little helpers learn at school?

The elf-abet.

And finally, cos of reasons of illness and pestilence within the t850 family, this Christmas Day will be slightly different and maybe quieter, but the indirect beauty of that is that Christmas Pressie exchanges will take place earlier (maybe) in the week and I now (ooooooops) and jt now has at least two Christmas Nights Out or even days out to look forward to next year…..…how many have you?

The day itself will see him read Neil Gaiman all day and listen to Brandi Carlile, the Dixie Chicks, Steve Earle and Walk the Moon and he won’t miss eating chocolate or turkey or drinking dry sherry…..or, late news just in, he may be going for a long walk in good company. 🙂

What did Adam say to his wife the day before Christmas?

It’s Christmas, Eve.

What do you call a bunch of chess players bragging about their games in a hotel lobby?

Chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.

Last year ended for jt with a great deal of optimism for the future. That disappeared in the first half of the year. 😦 It has returned. Many reasons. 🙂

This is Johnny Cash having an At Home. I hope all of yours turned out as dead good (and there is nothing wrong in the way Charlie Nicholas speaks. It is a form of lallans and to see it any other way is unjustified snobbishness) as Johnny’s but maybe with a wee bit more enthusiasm……

Have a great time and a Merry Christmas and remember it ain’t Christmas without Christ.

Cya, keeping it simple and where there’s tea, there’s hope.

Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable (G.K.Chesterton)

December 11, 2015

And so, dear listener, it is that time of year – no, not Christmas – but the ninth anniversary of my cold turkey and that all that has stemmed from it. In my early days, I used to talk of demons and recovering and recovered and all sorts of stuff like that. It’s a language based on that of Alcoholics Anonymous and it needs updated (maybe that should have been the offered PhD) but all I do these days is just say, ‘I don’t drink,’ and that’s it.

Cos it’s not been hard – not drinking, that is. Everything is in working order but that’s another story. If I’ve time I’ll get round to it. 🙂

Y’see, even before I cold-turkeyed and in the weeks leading up to it, I didn’t see ‘alcoholism as an incurable disease. Was it not just a habit that had got out of hand? Where was the research? After all we were used to donating to cancer charities but no alcohol ones…….and AA doesn’t pay for research. It has few funds. Anyway, I have just raced ahead.

Most people know the story; the weekend when, without planning it, I cold-turkeyed. There was booze in the house but no whisky and I wanted whisky and it was raining like it has been this week. So I stayed in. Thankfully; but not at the time. The diaorrhea (sp), the vomiting, the stuff oozing out of every pore; the out of body experience (like an angel); the hallucinations (the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse); and the feeling that I was having a heart attack and the gorgeous 999 operator who told me what to do until the paramedics arrived. 🙂

And then the hospital with its three meals a day; its routine; the learning to walk again; and the friends and extended family and professional workers who kept me going once I was out.

And then six month later the cancer diagnosis but the physical and mental recovery I’d started for the alcohol issues kept me going; and cups of tea cos where there’s tea, there’s hope. 😀

And the opportunity to study what had happened to me and the realisation that what I had described as a habit that had got out of hand was what psychologists described as learned behaviour (you want a non-alcoholic behaviour example? Do you really need that first cup of coffee in the morning – the belief that you can’t start the day without it?) and that many people just stop or cut back without any problem – new job, new child, new partner, fed up with hangovers, just tired of it all……..

And the discovery that coffee bars are nice places. There’s a really nice place in Paisley where I’m almost a regular. And good company helps. 🙂

And both cancer and the alcohol issues are sorted. On the prostate cancer front I am neither incontinent or impotent (both great fears of men who might be worried) and on the alcohol front I have no cravings nor I have ever lapsed (I like waking up with a clear head too much)

Now I have not written all this for plaudits or applause; all I ever want to do is to make people aware that there is always a road out but your mind has to be open to all possibilities. There is no right answer but if one doesn’t work try another one. 🙂

Nor is this an anti-AA diatribe. I know people who have been sober for over thirty years as a result of following the 12 step programme; I also know others who have taken a quarter bottle to meetings – ‘it’s a disease, son, I can’t help it.’

Right, Skippy, that’s enough. ‘What else has been happening this week?’

I met up with Missie K in a place called D’arcy’s in Princes Square; it seemed familiar, somehow. 🙂

I met up with the blogmeister in Tennent’s in Byres Road; it seemed familiar, somehow. 🙂

I had a business meeting with e; her broadband was down. 😦

I let workmen into my grand-daughter’s house – which she shares with her parents.

I edited Jenny’s PhD and that was good fun……e and Son Brian, the invoice is in. 🙂

And, as I write this, I have a smashing Saturday night to look forward to 🙂

And there are other folk to arrange to see 🙂


But it wasn’t all easy. There were dark clouds and sleepless nights and there was one band I played over and over again. There’s no good stuff of theirs on Youtube, but this song speaks volumes. This is the world’s greatest acid house country rock band – Alabama3.

‘One can never get enough socks,’ said Dumbledore. ‘Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.’ (Need I tell you who?)

December 4, 2015

And so dear listener, to Christmas stuff. It’s that time of year. 🙂

But can I start by saying I already have the Ladybird Book of Mindfulness? No. No reason.

Having started off in such an ungrateful mood, let me continue by drawing your attention (as did Becky G, the Miss Marples of North London) to a horrible practice. It’s called, apparently, the elf on the shelf and, apparently, you tell your children, apparently, that this elf (what you have bought from the shops) is keeping an eye on them to make sure they behave themselves in the run up to Christmas, apparently, and you move it each night after your children have gone to bed just to prove it’s keeping an eye on them. 😦

‘What do you want for Christmas, little girl?’

‘Paranoia, please.’

You got it.

But there again, according to the Prime Minister, I am a ‘terrorist sympathiser’. So, who is that sitting in the white van across the road? Actually, I think I may still be in the files of what used to be known as the Special Branch as a proscribed Marxist from cough, cough years ago.

And I was watching Countdown (hey, I work nights, okay?) and a big word was ‘mouthful’ and the posh guy that presents it (Nick?) said, ‘and I’m sure that you were told, like me, when you were young, not to speak with your mouthful.’ NO!!!!!!!!!!!! Posh Git……..

Mindful? No. Your mind is not full.

Right to happy stuff;

This is four year old Harry who had a lung transplant when he was one. He is now four and looking for a transplant again. Watch and laugh with Harry. 😀 😀 😀 😀

It’s okay, Skippy, I’m back on course. 😉

Aye, it’s the Advent edition of the blog and apparently there are some very commercial calendars out there with twenty-five (25) slots…….I do worry. But then I worry a lot. About other people. Me? Any time I get something right, it’s a bonus.

So Christmas, and the tree is up and it’s twenty-seven (?) years old and beginning to look it. I bought it when my then wife and I decided to lead separate lives and it looks it. The January sales will see me looking to buy a new one. It’s been through as many sets of lights as my car has had new front and back bits replaced, but it does have two sun roofs – the car, not the tree. But not all the bulbs are working………mmmmmm.

And the rapping has started.

‘Been to my local ASDA to shop, doing a lot of shopping, shop ‘til I drop.’

Sorry. The wrapping has started.

And what didn’t seem too difficult to wrap when I saw it in Waterstone’s becomes amazingly difficult where it’s lying out there on the dining room table and the paper keeps curling up, cos you forget that the scissors you laid down there to hold the paper in place, are the ones you need to cut the wrapping paper. 😦

A dinosaur, J?

Actually, dinosaurs have been, and still are, the mainstay of my present giving to a young friend of mine, but not, this time, from the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, but a fossil cave called Amazonia 😉

And the happiness continues with a nice Christmas message. The first Syrian refugees are due to arrive in Bute this weekend and a great welcome is being planned for them. People from all over the world are sending best wishes and presents. It’ll be a great Christmas for them – be they Christian, Muslim or non-believer. 🙂

So can I just correct some of the false representations I hear in various ways about these and the other refugees; they are ‘checked’ in refugee camps in the Middle East (that’s why Cameron is happy with them); they are ‘checked’ before they are allowed to stay in Britain; and even then they are only allowed in, initially, for a limited period (in many cases) of five years. But why let the facts get in the way of a good prejudice?

Enjoy your Christmas night out curry, if you’re one of those with that prejudice.

And finally, I do not see how bombing Syria can possibly help in the fight against ISIS……except, they bombed an oil field. I have long said, we need to stop ISIS selling oil, cos it’s done through small traders, and the RAF have started off by doing this. If only it could be guaranteed that these were their only targets, then I might have been persuaded by Hilary Benn’s speech.

But then that would have been a plan and there never is a plan when Tories like Thatcher, Blair and Cameron want to make their names known across history. I remain opposed.

Cya, still wearing that badge and keeping it simple – with the ball rolling happily 🙂

Johnt850 – and it’s only a matter of time before I get banned from the ASDA after the latest incident but surely they’re ‘staffed’ cash check-outs, not ‘manned’……….

So nothing serious below the line this week. Just a wee reminder that the show round about 12th December will reflect the importance of that date for me.

The 19th is the traditional Christmas Cracker version; and

The 26th is the Blog Personality of the Year and nominations are now being taken.

And since I’m in Christmas mood, here’s a start to the festivities.

It’s Twisted Sister and this is what’s like in t850 Towers…this time of year. Not. (But a certain amount of parental guidance may be involved)