Archive for January, 2016

‘prepare yourself to be entertained and challenged in equal measure’ said the BBC’s Robert Matthews of a completely different piece of writing

January 28, 2016

And so, dear listener, it was last week that j, the blog’s favest librarian and me (and I?) went to a Celtic Connections gig in the Royal Concert Hall called the Roaming Roots Revue with all round nice guy, Roddy Hart, or ‘good egg’ – as Lauren Bellbonnchere describes him. Its theme was to pay homage to travelling troubadours and also to introduce us to a range of musicians from as far apart as Nashville and Edinburgh who will feature in the music slot below for the next few weeks. 🙂

We had moshpit tickets (standing) and as we gathered in the tearoom beforehand the talk was all of one rumour sweeping Glasgow – that Kris Kristofferson would play……as if……

So we were near the front of the queue and were at the front of the area – the smug folk who can throw their coats on to the barrier and rest with their arms across it and the first half was good…..people like Alexander East, Blue Rose Code and This Is the Kit. 😀

We did not move for the second half which started off a touch more mainstream – a Bowie tribute with ‘Rebel, Rebel’ for example – and then Roddy introduced him.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, Kris Kristofferson.’

Was that a teenage-like squeal I heard beside me?

He sung the standards and did so really well and then, during Bobby Mcgee, he name-checked j……I kid you not…….and then, all too soon, it was over and we wandered back to respective trains going ‘wow’…… ‘did that really happen?’

Well, yes it did, and I walked back to Queen Street Station with all kinds of thoughts swirling in the playground of my imagination. 🙂

And if that was the highlight of the week, then the lowlight was watching a movie called ‘The Human Centipede.’…….it was grosser than gross and I won’t explain the circumstances………but I do feel better for telling people. 😦

But another not-quite-so-hot moment was the problem to my car as mentioned last week. It cost me just over £800 to get fixed but my clutch is sooooo much better. I look forward to proving it. 🙂

(No Skippy, that is not an innuendo)

Which is why I am re-launching The Word Process – – PLUS a major marketing input from e which is why we’ve had two Strategic Planning Development meetings (or coffees in Café a Go – Go just off Byres Road). Actually it has helped. I’ve had help with the actual editing before but it’s been good chatting and realising how half-cocked (No. Skippy) I’ve been in the past about things like my Facebook page for The Word Process and how important it is I make these things work. 🙂

But general enquiries to and my thanks, also, to Zoe and Jenny H for sharing……..

But a possible holiday at the end of March and looking at a possible new car have been put on hold for a few days……..but let’s set it in context. There are things out there which are much more expensive and are more of a priority than my transport. Apart from anything else, I used my concession card on a train recently and have discovered that there is no 19 bus out of Summerston. This does explain a lot……maybe in the week ahead?

Moving on (and swiftly)

Incidentally, an American friend recently asked me what state I lived in. ‘Constant anxiety,’ I replied…(and my thanks to Zoe and Buzzfeed for that gag)

And good news just in. I’ve chronicled the flooding that has existed in Summerston for the last few months as we get hit again by a storm with a stupid name. MSPs and councillors have got together and they’re going to widen drains and clear out sewage pipes.

And finally, a confession to the good people of Summerston. We have a large number of coloured bins for our rubbish and on Thursday there it was the time for the green (general rubbish) bin to get lifted…(don’t know what it had done wrong, mind you)…..when I got it back I noticed some stuff (mostly bits of paper) stuck to the side. So I did as most people would do. Boil water in a kettle several times and pour it into the bin. I then turned the bin upside down to allow the paper to fall to the ground. My intentions were good at this point. 🙂

Then a heavy shower of rain came on and I dashed back inside…….only to see, seconds later, all the bits and pieces of paper that I’d intended to pick up sailing (almost literally) down the road. 😦

People of Summerston, I apologise.

Cya, still wearing that badge and keeping it simple (Wow!)

Johnt850, wondering how I would look in a poncho……..

So no serious message below the line tonight (except it’s in the song), but a recent conversation kinda centred around famous people I’d met whilst working at the BBC – not a long conversation – but I’ve just remembered someone. I worked on BBC’s coverage of the Glasgow Garden Festival a wee while back and on one occasion, I met Dave Prowse – the original Green Cross Code man. 🙂

He taught me everything I know about crossing the road and now I’m putting it into practice.

This was one of the songs Kris sang. In the darkness no-one can see your eyes moisten………

‘You may have noticed we are still wearing the same clothes. Um. I haven’t been home yet. I came straight here.’ (Holly Willoughby with hangover)

January 22, 2016

And so, dear listener I had a lovely experience at about four thirty last Sunday morning. No. Not that. Let me explain. 🙂

Satyrday was a day of snow in Glasgow (and elsewhere) and my car is not too well (a decision may have to be made soon)* and I had to go in early to work that night and so I went in by train but not sure how I’d get home, but I knew it would be early in the morning. 🙂

And so it was. Now, part of the night shift involves some janitorial duties and quite often I’m putting bin bags into the big bins in the lane around the side of the building (and sometimes it’s better not to look too closely at what’s happening in the lane) and I spend a minute or two chatting to the taxi drivers. The city is beginning to settle down.

Not this Sunday morning. When I decided that it was okay to leave the project and went to the rank, it was real busy. The streets were still alive. The Bistro was still selling chips, cheese and curry sauce. But taxis came and went and I got into one – with chatty taxi driver. After some pleasantries, he said,

‘Y’know, as soon as you got into my cab, I thought, is it him? Y’know, you look so much like him.’

(And this has been said to me often and I know Johnny Depp gets the same in reverse)

‘Y’know, that TV chef. Him. Him on Channel 133.’

More pleasantries took place and cos it was such a nice night, I got him to drop me at the bottom of the main road that leads to my cul-de-sac. It was a lovely walk to my house. Natural light. The snow was a fine consistency and easy to walk in. And when I got home, I took a brush and swept the snow off my car and off my drive – and it was easily done. And no neighbours’ lights switched on (other than security lights and, j, all the Christmas lights are now down, you’ll be pleased to hear) and I was quite happy. 😀

I’d a lovely wee conversation with a fox. 🙂

However, on my TV, Channel 133 is Comedy Central + 1. TV chef?

[*I know nothing about cars, so when I say ‘I’m not a man as other men’, this is one of the areas to which I refer. I am the man for whom the joke,

‘You’re battery’s flat.’

‘Why? What shape should it be?’

was invented.]

Elsewhere, the multi-media empire that I run from the West Wing of t850Towers is being restructured. Fresh talent has been introduced but there is a lack of work coming in from the usual suspects. A Strategic Planning Development meeting is to be scheduled (probably lunch at the Hanoi Bike Shop but business will be discussed) but it might help if I knew a marketing guru….Hang On! Rainforestriverman! That’s what you are! You tell me! Sorry! I’ve developed exclamationmarkitis! There is only one cure! Move onto next paragraph!

Rrm, I will be in touch. Soon. In the meantime, dear listener, if you, a member of your family or a friend or fellow student requires essay, thesis or dissertation editing or proof-reading then please feel free to look at the website;

and then contact me. Apparently I have testimonials. Two of them.

But at least I’m not yet reduced flogging jewellery on QVC like Lady Michelle Moan of Westminster who, I’m told, proclaimed, ‘I’m very bling bling, hopefully in a classy way.’ 🙂

Channel 133?

And finally, the fresh talent (or e as she is known to many people) recommended a book to me called The Bees by Laline Paull and very good it is too. 🙂

But on the subject of books, I received an e-mail from someone called Angelique du Toit thanking me for all my help with her book project but whilst I recognise the name, I cannot remember doing anything for her. And if I did, I did not charge for it. I must stop doing freebies.

The book is called Goodnight Doll; a tribute to my gay brother and his partner on their roller coaster journey with prostate cancer. I have ordered a copy from the rainforestriverman’s old corner shop and will let you know more when I get it.

Cya, (and I’ve forgotten what I write here!) but I’m still wearing that badge and I’m still keeping it simple!


Now for very good reasons, this has been written before me and a good friend go to a Celtic Connections gig (so I hope it happens) called Roaming Roots Review (Troubadours) which has a range of musicians wandering on and off with Roddy Hart and some mates (of Idlewild and BBC Radio Scotland fame) working as the house band.

There’s a few names I don’t recognise but this is the man described as ‘a Virginia soul maverick’, Matthew E. White. Let’s hope for better weather than that in the video. And, incidentally, if this doesn’t open, then copy and paste the link into your browser.

Oh don’t lean on me man Cause you ain’t got time to check it You know my Suffragette City Is outta sight…she’s all right (Bowie)

January 15, 2016

And so dear listener, last Sunday I had brunch in a coffee shop just off Byres Road – which must be one of the ponciest (sp) opening lines, I’ve ever opened with but please bear with me on this. It’s a friend (male) called Stuart who lives out of town with his wife Anne, and who pops into Glasgow from time to obscure time.

They travel a lot. I mean, they have full time jobs but they seem to manage to travel a lot. So they’re not long back from Nepal, Tibet and India (I’m considering a couple of days in Amsterdam at the end of March) and he has good stories. 🙂

Some of them are quite mundane – like having to get a large musical horn through Chinese customs and wondering what the hell they were eating…..the usual kinda thing but one stood out and put a lot of my life into context. They became friendly with a Sherpa, who, at the age of 27, had eighteen children. I made a disparaging profligacy comment but I was then put in my place. He had adopted them (those that weren’t his own) after the most recent avalanche had killed some of his friends and colleagues and he was bringing them up as part of his family.

Through his Sherpa-ing he had made many contacts with rich foreign people and they were all contributing to his ‘project’ and I was spell-bound. How had he met all these rich foreign people? Well, he had been, and had guided them, to the top of Everest six times……… scrambled eggs had gone cold but I never noticed.  🙂

My most exciting event of the week had been to buy some books (not strictly ‘the most exciting event’ but some other coffee bar conversations must stay in the coffee bar). 😉

One was a book of Glasgow maps over the years. A fascinating read but the maps are awfy small to look at. However, there, on page 115, was a map of Partickhill in Glasgow. I had stayed in student halls of residence and then an all-male flat in the Woodlands area before graduating and going back to Peterhead and making a lot of money in the oil industry before returning to Glasgow to do a Post Grad/community work traineeship with the old Strathclyde Region.

I came down with nowhere to stay but within a day I was sharing a flat (single bed in front room) with Jane and Viv in Partickhill. (Yes, rrm, that very flat where you and…hang on! My screen’s flashing LAWYER’S LETTER, LAWYER’S LETTER…….) I’ll move on. No. I have many memories of that and a number of strange flats I was to share with Viv over the years but Partickhill had a really weird Victorian shower/bath thing with loads of knobs and stuff. The building was eventually knocked down but the bath/shower thing was saved and is currently in the People’s Palace on Glasgow Green. Well worth a look.

And finally another book I ‘had’ to buy was the Ladybird Book of Mindfulness (Hazeley N.S.F.W. and Morris O.M.G.) cos I didn’t get one for Christmas. I think I’m okay on the copyright front (J?) if I lift one quote from it;

‘Catriona is in love with the earth but she worries that it does not love her back. Maybe joining Friends of the Earth was a mistake. Now the earth will never see her as more than that.’

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Johnt850, wham, bang, thank you, ma’am.

And I’m not going to say much about the death of David Bowie other than he was a big influence on me in the early seventies in making the transition from Peterhead to Glasgow. 😉

I Facebook shared a photo of him in Cumbernauld Town Centre which many people, including those from Cumbernauld, enjoyed. But some others claimed that it was a gentle fraud and put up a similar photo of him in Munich, but I reckon that the Munichians had photoshopped the original from the Cumbernauld Years which David Cameron totally forgot about when paying his tribute.

But does it matter?

Many years ago, I was doing some work experience, for my first Post Grad, down Ayrshire way and I was staying with a family in Irvine. The man of the house told me a story that he had been reserve goalkeeper for Aston Villa and minutes before the English Cup Final was about to kick off at Wembley the first choice keeper had been injured and he had had to play in goals. My scrambled eggs went cold…it was all they ever fed me.

But, dear listener, I made a big mistake. I looked the game up in my Rothman’s Football Annual, the printed Google of its day and found he hadn’t. I should just have believed him. What harm would it have done? 😦 And his stories were good.

If something makes you happy, then don’t analyse it. Accept it for what it is and keep smelling the roses. And smiling. You have no idea what’s round the corner. It could be an avalanche and that could change your life in many, many ways. Hopefully, always for the better.

And is it the Partickhill shower/bath in the Peoples’ Palace or do I just tell people it is? Only I know.

And I don’t think this Bowie track ever got the full recognition it deserved, but in this world of Dungeons, Dragons, myths and mystery and Neil Gaiman and JRR Tolkein, here it is in an appropriate context. Enjoy…..whatever story you believe to be true.

“The cat sat on the mat is not the beginning of a story. The cat sat on the dog’s mat is” (John Le Carre)

January 8, 2016

And so, dear listener, for me the new year didn’t start until Monday, 4th January and that may be no bad thing. Aye, I was working but only the New Year/Hogmanay week. Our rota gets changed over that period. 🙂

And it was so heartwarming to see (social media) and hear (listening in) all those people who were so glad to get back to work and normality after being off from the close of play (3pm) on the Wednesday (23rd) before Christmas until Tuesday, 5th January. All those working in bars and restaurants, in hospitals and shops, over that period serving you ‘salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability.’

On a personal note, I’d like to say a personal thanks personally to those police and para-medics working over that period and their pretty damn good response times and to those nice people from Victim Support Scotland who phone up to see if you’re okay. ‘Thanks. I am.’

A number of things make/made the Fourth a good day to start. 😀

Let’s take revolutions. I heard someone on Radio 1 make the point that the First is a bad day cos, in addition to that possible hangover, there’s an awful lot of food and drink in the house still and who’s going to ignore that?

My other revolution is to lose a couple of inches (from my stomach area) so leaving that for a couple of days before starting doing anything about it is a good idea. It’s too easy to graze and nibble in my house, particularly when writing the blog or doing the editing. 😦

I will keep you posted. 🙂

The year the Fourth was also good cos I met up with Jenny H, a PhD student for whom I had done some work. Most of my interaction on the editing front is done by e-mail; so to meet up with a ‘client’ can be quite nerve-wracking. This time, it wasn’t.

Can I also make a point about meeting in coffee houses (for want of a better term)? I still find it amazing that despite having drunk and eaten our full, as long as we keep our cups with some coffee in them, no waiter/tress asks us if we want another – a good hint to leave. Or maybe that was just the pubs I drank in. 😦

And on Tuesday I celebrated uni-Sharon receiving her lifetime achievement award in a café in Paisley, which resembles the TARDIS in having so many rooms through the back…..and a smashing goats’ cheese salad.

And it was also nice spending time with J and e before Christmas.

The two questions I am most commonly asked;

  1. Do I still get alcohol cravings? No. and never really did. Nor do I get cravings for meat.
  2. Do I have any male friends? Em, yes……….a few. I’ll get back to you with some names. Indeed, one of them, the rainforestriverman was the one who gave me a signed copy of Volume Two of Charles Moore’s biography of Margaret Thatcher….I’m not sure that’s being a friend, tho’…….

And I despair at the diminishing ability of we Scots to out things in context. I blame #indyref.

The Tunnocks family have done millions for portraying a vision of Scotland with which I’ve not always agreed but I respect their right so to do. Not so the cybernats who are sooooooo blinkered in their vision that any action taken with which they disagree is a slight to Scotland – it doesn’t matter what the family have done for Scotland and the Scottish people over the years.

The decision to remove the lion from the wrapping as part of a rebranding campaign to take advantage of the great British Bake-Off has been seen as slight to Scottish manhood equivalent to the hanging, drawing and quartering of Wallace himself. Listen, if you can’t get a grip, get a context.

And finally, I had an Alan Partridge moment on the night shift the other night. The project in which I work occupies an entire Glasgow tenement. At 3.30 in the morning there was a problem with the water in the top flats so I phoned Scottish Water.

‘Hi this is Alison.’

‘Hi Alison, this is John.’ And I explained what was happening.

‘No,’ she said. ‘There’s been nothing like that since I came on shift at ten.’

‘Oh,’ says I. ‘I came on at nine. When do you finish?’

‘Eight. When do you finish?’

‘Seven.’……..but no, I didn’t ask her for breakfast. Sometimes, you just want to go home. 🙂

Cya, still wearing that badge and preferring to keep it simple.

Johnt850, more of a Caramel Wafer Man.

So lots of stuff about guidelines for the consumption of alcohol and I’m sure I’m expected to comment on these.

So I just want to say two things.

The biggest problem, in my view, is people drinking at home before going out – getting tanked up before the night starts or even taking booze with them on the way to a night out. Do you measure out your drinks at home or do you just pour?

The other is that objective consideration of the number of units consumed diminishes as more drink gets drunk. I have no idea how many units were/are in a bottle of whisky….each night. That was the least of my consideration. It didn’t stop me drinking one – at least – each night of that last year.

Drinking at home. How much do you do?

Last week, I played half of the game; you play me some of your CDs and I’ll play you some of mine. I played Mariachi the Bronx. This is The Bronx. The video? Consider it as part of my own Glasgow Effect and the resulting Poverty Safari.

You don’t mess with the Nolans (Lemmy)

January 2, 2016

And so dear listener, Christmas and the New Year celebrations are over and the blog begins to return to normal (ish). Hogmanay and New Year’s night were spent at work with the homeless and the refugees……..and it was fun and it was different. So much to explain and so little time to do it but still time to wash the tenement stairs. 😦

But life goes on and the pressies have been put away or stored until later this year. It was nice that some people think I still grow exotic plants and I got a range of exotic seeds. Let’s just see how I get on with them. 🙂

I did once try to grow cannabis plants (No. No connection) from some cuttings I received in Cumbernauld many years ago but they didn’t take. Nope. I don’t remember what happened to the bits – as we horticulturalists call them. Honest.

A strong hint was made that I should move on from black as my basic clothing colour (Rocha grey); the brie baker I received needs a whole brie which I’m not sure that the ASDA in Summerston sells – but there are cheesemakers in the west end; and a very pleasant twenty minutes or so was spent trying to find the pen bit of a pen screwdriver which seems to screw but not to pen. There is no pen bit. I am happy. 😀

For a range of reasons, some things were postponed or re-arranged cos of illness and pestilence and I will defo see you this coming week, Sharon. I may want to discuss my stomach with you.

And a nice response from all of those who had received awards in the Personality of the Year Awards……including a lovely acceptance speech from the log cabin. 🙂 It was nice.

And I did play the odd game of ‘I’ll play you some of my CDs and you can play me some of yours.’

A late contender for an award was Sunderland defender Fabio Borini, who claims he would have become an interior designer had he not taken up football. I’ll let him describe one of his achievements;

‘I also designed a hole at the back for a phone charger to go through so the cable is not everywhere.’

Hang on! Kenny the Shed Pimp did the same for me and my house earlier this year and even he would accept that others have done that previous to him.

I was reminded (but not intentionally) this week that I have (or used to have) an electric drill with attachments and I used to use it until I realised that other people used it better than I did and, anyway, I’d better things to do. Being an estranged dad came first; work a close second.

Which is not to say I don’t still do some D-I-Y myself and still reasonably well.

But a big thanks to Son Brian for doing some sterling work on my computer a couple of days ago. I’ve been talking about getting a new one recently and it’s like having one. Maybe all that time being a good estranged dad paid off. Who wanted to be a Senior Producer anyway?

But I did catch up with Nick of Demus Productions who was co-producer of my last ever radio doc and who is still up there as Scotland’s leading indie. He produces that STV prog about the SSPCA and other stuff. It was also a gossip about a business that I left some time ago but I do know the people to whom you refer. Indeed……….

Incidentally, the radio is on. Not a surprise in itself. But why on earth did the Met Office feel the need to differentiate between storms? The next one is called Gertrude?

‘And they called the storm Gertude’ pales into insignificance beside ‘And they called the wind Maria’. Doesn’t it……and as for Storm J?

Bus this is not to belittle the effects of the storm. Some of them surprising.

There is a main road into town from Milngavie which goes past the cemetery on the other side of Summerston. It’s been flooded for ages so the diversion should take the impatient middle classes from Milngavie through Summerston and under the railway bridge (the main West Highland Line) but under the bridge is also flooded. It’s the only easy route between the two main parts of Summerston. There is therefore only one road out of Summerston onto the Maryhill Road side. Up past the Riding for the Disabled. And it’s crowded.

It is designed for one side of cars at a time cos of the parked cars…..(legitimate)… take ages to get out but at least we were all being considerate and giving space. Coming back the consideration was gone. And there was no space for me to move forward until the fire engine came……I inched forward. I got through and the fire engine was two cars behind me trying the same thing.

Our flooding in itself was not life threatening but its ultimate effects were.

And finally, I will pass no comment on American research which suggests that a male orgasm a day can reduce the possibility of a man developing prostate cancer by almost a quarter. ‘No sex required’ apparently. 😦

Well I wanted to pass comment, but Skippy kept red penning all my suggestions. I told her she wouldn’t win……I can keep going for hours, I told her….making suggestions.

‘Let it go, let it go, let it go,’ she said.

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

Johnt850, really relieved that that’s the bowel cancer screening thing done…..

So, I did my revolutions last week and I don’t always feel the need to ask ‘why’ in certain circumstances. Acceptance is good in itself.

Tonight’s band which is standing by to play us out is new to me……except it isn’t. I know the Bronx as a hardcore punk band from Los Angeles but thanks to J and her very diverse musical tastes, I now realise they have an alter ego.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the Mariachi El Bronx and ‘Wildfires’.