Archive for May, 2016

Railway termini are our gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them, alas! we return. (E. M. Forster)

May 27, 2016

And so dear listener, this week saw me take part in an adventure that saw me go with five women to the island of Great Cumbrae (Millport) and come back with three……..but before I even got on the train to Largs, the adventure had started at Johnstone Railway Station.

There is a toilet there on the platform but I was unsure how to open it. I went to the ticket desk and asked. The lady behind the counter (of whom more in a minute) pressed a button and shouted ‘Run!’ to which I obviously replied, ‘It’s okay. I’m not in that much of a hurry.’ 😀

She shouted again ‘Run!’ and then I saw why. The door was already closing and I’d to throw myself at it Indiana Jones style just to get in, in time……..and when I say ‘in time’, I mean before the door closed. Nothing else. I managed to get out okay. 🙂

And the lady at the ticket counter had asked me for ID. Well, very politely, she asked if I’d any cards when I paid for my ticket. I know what she was suggesting but basically, I’d not brought my wallet……I did not have that card with me.

Anyway, I met up with Uni-Sharon, Pat, Pat, Cathie and Helen and, boy, was I worried listening to them on the train. Snippets reached my ears. Words like ‘munros’ and a walk through Glasgow that e and I would think twice about doing and then would do. They seemed professional…..but I needn’t have worried.

The eleven mile walk around the island was carried out at a good pace until we got to the capital city itself and Pat and Cathie sat down at one bench for their lunch and we sat down at another around the corner. And then it was time for us to move (I get impatient sitting, okay) and I went to get them. And they weren’t there. 😦

Now, I was worried. But no-one else was. What a cold blooded bunch I was walking with. It felt like I was taking part in that well known Agatha Christies whodunit called Ten Little Politically Correct People, where people are bumped off one by one. I decided to take up the rear position where I could see everyone…..including Helen who tried to distract my attention by removing various layers of clothing and seemed to end up in a string vest. Or was the sun getting to me? Was my Lucozade poisoned? They all seemed to be drinking a potion called Herbalife which seemed to be some form of stimulant not covered by the new Psychoactive Substances Bill (and there’s the plug for Herbalife, Uni-Sharon, altho’ I didn’t expect it to be in the same sentence as legal highs)

But we did make it back to the ferry and Largs and it was a brilliant day and I thoroughly enjoyed the day and the company and may join them on another occasion and may try to encourage a couple of others as well. 😀

‘What’s that Skippy? What happened to Pat and Cathie?’ Well, they met up with us again at Largs Station for the journey for the journey back.

They’d been and bought a vase. Uni-Sharon had a new black rucksack. Helen had put her clothes back on. And I was eating chips. A brilliant day. 🙂

Now the other event I was going to mention was J formally opening my garden. With ribbons and bows, I got for nothing from Morrisons, Anniesland. Yes. It does sound a strange fantasy but unfortunately it was heavy, heavy rain and the bands and the fly past had to be cancelled. Shame. But can I congratulate J and some of her colleagues for some superb shelf-tidying in my time at Paisley Uny.

This week’s And finally is about the report this week which some of you may have seen highlighting the resurgence in buying booze from supermarkets and whilst the Scottish Government want to bring in minimum pricing the Scottish Whisky Association continue to fight it through the European courts.

According to Alison Douglas of Alcohol Focus Scotland, ‘twenty-two Scots are dying because of alcohol every week and sales are increasing.’  And a former lecturer of mine, the silver fox, Ken Barrie, having studied the links between price, consumption and health related consequences in the international research literature concluded that ‘an increase in the price of alcohol will generally result in reduced consumption and in turn related harm. A reduction…will result in increased consumption and harm.’

It couldn’t be more simple. Except, Ken nothing must stand in the way of profit – even people’s health. Put that in a crack pipe and spark it up. 😉

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Johnt850, the man who put the John in the Johnstone Jaunters

And whilst regular listeners will know that J is the blog’s favest librarian, she is not the only one who helped me with my studies in a university somewhere in the West of Scotland. Last weekend she and her colleagues found themselves moving to a smaller library area in that university.

I made my feelings known about the demise of the importance of libraries in society in general a couple of weeks ago but from the university side of things, a friend of mine suggested that the fact that lecturers not only supply general reading lists but in many cases supply the actual online listing means there’s no need for a student to learn how to browse properly.

And from my own POV I think it’s great that some lecturers don’t bother teaching students how to use references properly either. A large portion of my income comes from doing proper Harvard Referencing for students who have not been told how to do it.

We were taught similar things by the mad Professor Marks who took several weeks to explain to me what a null hypothesis was. And then one day it struck me. In a Eureka moment, I shouted out, ‘you mean it remains the status quo.’

At which a voice behind me went, ‘what’s the status quo?’ Ah, academia how I miss you. A bit. 🙂

Anyway, this is for J and her colleagues.

First, they came for the disabled and I did not speak out. Then, the teachers and the doctors. Then, when they came for the online pasta recipes, I was furious (anon).

May 20, 2016

Yes, dear listener, it was weird; me, like lots of other people, getting worked up over the decision to close down the BBC’s recipe archive with rumours that it was being sold off to all sorts of Tory chums of David Cameron but all I have to do is, at some point to be decided, is to bookmark the archive and it’ll be there for me for all time. Or there’s talk of simpler ways of keeping the archive going. I hope they happen. 🙂

But the last time I was this annoyed was when it was suggested that they blow up the Sighthill flats – leaving only the one the refugees and asylum seekers lived in – as part of the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. I mean what kind of message was that supposed to give? 😦

That the flats are not fit for habitation unless you’re a refugee? The powers that be soon changed their minds.

Y’see, I was working for the BBC when it was beginning its move into Intranets and platforming and I was getting clued up on the need for websites and internetting and stuff and learning that FTP actually meant File Transfer Protocol and not, well not anything else.

It meant a huge cultural change for many people. I learned so much about broadcasting from the great Jimmy Mack. For the bunch of fans with whom I stand at Firhill I am the official timekeeper because of my ability to backtime i.e. I can tell you how long there is to go with little or no thought, and other stuff which was important when I broadcast, like why you’ve a right and a left to your headphones……’split feed’. 🙂

Anyway, I worked on Jimmy’s show for a long time and we had an amazing woman called Muriel Clark who did recipes including cloutie dumpling (which I don’t think I’ve ever had) and cullen skink, much of which was cooked in the studio, but always recipes were made available on receipt of an S.A.E. (younger listeners, ask your Gran or Grandpa). Many, many hours were spent putting these recipes in envelopes but that’s public service broadcasting for you. 🙂 Now, it’s all online.

For only £12 per month.

I mean, the last cookbook I bought was £8.99.

‘What was it called, jt?’

‘Skippy, it was called ‘Healthy Living with Gluten Intolerance’ and jolly interesting it was.’

No. No reason but moving on.

Actually a wee note to myself. Do not read books about people having really bad and horrible dreams immediately before I go to sleep, because the dream I had the other night and the resultant shivers was the worst I’d had for a long time. It’s been a long time since those demons had come to visit. I’m fine. Thanks.

And finally, a big thanks to e for taking me to the Lego Shop in the Buchanananananana Galleries. Did I tell you, e, that me and Son Brian had been to two Legolands – Denmark and Windsor (and in the spirit of one-upmanship very few folk find my conversation where the surveyor with his two cancers beat my one cancer and the alcohol dependency as funny as I do) – well anyway we have. 😀

I’m not sure about current Lego (and stick with me as there is a point to this) as you can buy an actual replica, in Lego, of Sheldon and his friends and their lounge from the Big Bang Theory and that’s not right. It’s marketing for money and not encouraging the imagination.

When my son came to regularly stay with me after the separation he found a tremendous amount of Lego (a lot of it pirate stuff and that’s as in Lego pirates and not bootlegged stuff) and then after he’d gone back to his mum’s, I’d come back home and rebuild the Lego models as a way of chilling without Netflix. 😦

Y’see, as a couple of you know, I recently had a conversation with someone who seems to have chosen to stereotype herself and it did not go well. Shame as I think the other person involved has a lot of talent and cold go far in her chosen trade.

Y’see, my son comes from a broken home and his dad was what many people would describe as an ‘alcoholic’ but I, having studied it a wee bit, would describe myself as alcoholically dependent for part of my life.

So please feel free to stereotype me and think the boy’s done good or feel free to reject stereotypes and approach things with an open mind……

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Johnt850, practising my Gaelic for a Sports Day in June – details to follow.

And so, I’m making a slow beginning to getting fit(ter).

I’m embarking on a diet known as the ‘eating less food and trying to cut out snacking when I’m at the laptop’ diet and it’s a reasonable start. My face is a wee bit thinner and that’s a good start. 🙂

But I need to do more walking and so I have accepted an invitation to join the Johnstone Jaunters, a walking group from Johnstone and seemingly all women (but, according to uni-Sharon, none of them are single), who quite soon are planning a walk round Millport – like next week, that soon. Four hours, I’m told. And then there’s the train journey and the ferry journey. It’s an adventure and I like adventures. 🙂

I’ll tell you next week how I got on…or I might be airlifted off the island. Who knows? Watch this space. 🙂

Now, the only non-British Eurovision contestant I have ever met was the lovely Lithuanian, Lana Svilpe for whom I did some editing. I’m assuming that as a former BBC man who started in the late seventies, I must have sat beside Kenneth McKellar in the canteen at some point.

Anyway this is a lovely track from a band called The Common Linnets who seem to have been the entry from the Netherlands in 2014;


People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it (unknown)

May 13, 2016

And so dear listener, a few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Prostate Cancer HQ wanting to know if I wanted to be kept up to date on volunteer opportunities and if, indeed,  I wanted to continue to volunteer. And I said, yes, and that I knew I wasn’t doing as much stuff as I once did but things continued to change and I was busy but…..

Indeed, all I’d done recently was a couple of information talks a) for a friend, Fenton of that Ilk, and her student nurses down EK way and b) with some recovering heroin users down Dumbarton way – both slightly different audiences – and I was asked if I could supply someone at PCHQ with details of both and much to my shame……No. I can’t. 😦

I know stats are good and that for some people there is a thrill to an Excel spreadsheet that I feel when I see an empty Inukshuk Blueberry Ice Wine tea tin, but my stats keeping is rubbish. 😦

Somebody from my work’s HR department was in touch recently.

‘The auditors are in.’

Could I supply originals  of my first degree, my two Post Grads and my Master’s? Well, three out of four were relatively easy, although I did ask if the auditors could read and understand Latin. Y’see, my first degree from Glasgow University was in Latin…Magistrum Artium…..and the Paisley University stuff was easy to lay my hands on and I also found an Introduction to Teaching in Further Education that rings no bells. I may have been drunk at the time.

But my Post Grad in Youth and Community Work? No sign. I did try and explain that it was about forty years ago (I was a prodigal, okay?); that I had been living in student flats and then had lived in about four houses; had had a broken marriage; that I had studied for it at an institution that no longer existed (Jordanhill College); and it was awarded by an institution that no longer existed (Scottish Education Department); and it was funded by an institution that no longer existed (Strathclyde Regional Council) and that I had no idea where it was……..Let’s just say at this stage that a discussion is about to continue. 😦

I’m not being disrespectful to stats collectors ‘cos having done some social scientific research, I do know the help that they can offer, even if such evidence is totally ignored and instead we prefer what we see in the soaps………and the role that factoids play rather than what we warily call facts.

Sometimes it’s the little things that appeal to me. When, for example, in an email to J, I referred to bog doors, when I actually meant big doors and we laughed. Thank you to the man who invented the QWERTY keyboard for giving us, inadvertently, a good laugh. 🙂

And to e and RJ for supplying me with ice cream In Nardini’s in Byres Road on the hottest day of the year so far (a scoop of rhubarb crumble and a scoop of mango since you ask) but don’t tell your slightly older brother and, e, I hope you recover from your football injury soon…..they’ll be getting the vote next. ;p

And when the man who cuts my grass (I have a lot of grass) strimmered a stone into a piece of glass in my porch window, it is ho and it is hum, and a text to Kenny the shed pimp and a call to his mate Paul the Glazier and we’ll get it sorted. 🙂

Y’see, as I explained a couple of weeks ago, it was eight years ago that I was being zapped to treat my prostate cancer and we had just reached the stage where they increase the power. They seemed confident that they had found the right area in my groin and that those minute felt tip pen markings, that they continued to make in that area, were accurate. But you find yourself thinking……what is this going to lead to when it’s all over?

And do you know something? The positive results of the cold turkey and the cancer treatment aren’t over yet. There are still adventures to be had and even if I still prefer to sit on the kitchen step at the back rather than the new patio furniture, it’s great having the option.

And finally, an inukshuk ‘is a human-made stone landmark or cairn used by the Inuit, Inupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America.’ I think my garden is just about ready for one.

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

Johnt850, and I meant prodigy not prodigal.

And my final words on the recent Scottish election (I make it sound like a Shakespeare play) are these:

Ruth Davidson and her inner sanctum recognised that a majority of people had voted against Independence and that, therefore, it was reasonable to think that that majority was in favour of keeping the union – and played that card. The Labour Party didn’t recognise that and paid the price.

The fragrant Nicola’s inner sanctum, whilst well pleased at all those people signing up as members, didn’t realise that these new people thought that  ‘activism’ was all about  re-tweeting negative things about opponents and didn’t realise it meant going knocking on doors and giving out leaflets.

Many SNP supporters, in their quest for a one-party dictatorship that brooks no opposition, did not realise that voting SNP/SNP actually worked against them.

I will make no political comment about the EU referendum other than to say I am in favour of staying in, if for no other reason, that the holiday-pay I get as a part-time worker (and other benefits) is secure ……..a security of employment that is still denied to many agency workers. There are battles still to be won. I have a social media petition to sign about it. What? No. Online. No. No clipboard out on the streets. Don’t be daft.

So why the hell would a record/video company even think about photoshopping Meghan Trainor after this?


‘Life is just a party and parties weren’t made to last’ (Prince)

May 6, 2016

And so, dear listener, it’s done and dusted. Our leader of the last wee while is to stay our leader for the foreseeable future. Done with little fuss and with only a little coverage in the press. A popular choice despite recent results not showing ‘our leader’ in a good light. 😦

Yes. Alan Archibald is to remain as Partick Thistle’s manager. Aye.. We had kinda drifted into the play off zone area but we’re fine. Actually Alan is a popular choice but not being married, I can’t join in the chant where the fans offer him their wives. I wonder if the wives know. 😛

And despite being turned over last week by Inverness Caley Thistle, we still came away with a smile. One of the guys had turned up with a rucksack which was quietly opened by friends in the row behind him. During the course of the game, all sorts of rubbish was piled into his bag and he did not notice until the end. Oh, how it took our minds off the game. Almost. 😦

I will say one thing about the Scottish election. I was saddened that so many SNP followers wanted a one party state system where opposition is frowned upon. My first vote went to Patricia Ferguson (Labour) as she has been helpful when I needed her help. My list vote went to the Greens as I believe in a democracy of ideas. 🙂

I am happy, however, with Bob Doris (SNP) who I have met and who has promised to sort out the Summerston Railway Bridge problem. 😀

Incidentally, whilst talking of Thistle, many of you will know of the link with David Shrigley, the Turner Art Prize nominee (2013). At a recent home game, we were given a free foam thumb (mine is in my boot with ASDA and Morrison bags) having been give cushions and scarves and stuff as well as Kingsley the mascot. Except I never made it to those games. 😦

Well, apparently, they’re selling for between £90 and £110 on e-Bay. I know of a few defenders who should be punted for that amount. 😦

So the refurbishment of t850Towers is almost over. Lots of good work done by lots of good people, and whilst it may have taken the electrician a wee while to get here to get the work done, once Craig was here he just got on with it. Would I recommend him? Whereas that’s a resounding Yes to all the others, I feel he needs pinned down.

However, the idea that J came up with, which was to give him a rough idea of what I wanted and let him choose the actual lights, seems to have worked in that he’s chosen well, but I had hoped to have been out of the house whist he was working and to have come back to a pleasant surprise. 🙂

Anyway, should you find yourself in the Summerston area then please find me and come walk the estate with me; that’s ‘estate’ as in back garden – not ‘estate’ as in the scheme.

Oh, and to e, the blog’s favest interior designer, I’m looking forward to hearing how your football injury came about. And it was nice to hear from Becky G, the Miss Marples of North London, who advises me that the teenage years start at five. Wonder when they end? I feel as if I’m still enjoying them. 😀

And finally, for once, a few political thoughts. I had been worried about the changing political climate in Scotland, as it seems to me that many folk have got involved post-referendum, which on the one hand is good, but much of that interest was focused on another independence referendum and ignored the sad state of the Scottish economy and the fact that the SNP is a party of austerity and decisions such as freezing the council tax have led to council cutbacks meaning people are out of jobs and much social care is in danger.

Education at all levels is suffering and whilst our health system may be under less attack than in England, I do hear concerns about it from many people altho’ I have few concerns in my dealings with them.

Would I vote Yes again in another referendum? That is soooooo rhetorical as I don’t think the fragrant Nicola is that keen on such a thing, paricularly after the election results. We have greater powers than we had before #indyref. Let’s make use of them but let’s also encourage and not stifle debate. Those who did not vote SNP have as much of a right to criticise as those who voted for the SNP have a right to eulogise.

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

Johnt850, often flashy but never trashy.

I, for reasons known to some, have become a wee bit more of a country music fan than I once was and whilst I didn’t squeal with teenage delight (no names, no pack drill) when Kris Kristofferson walked on at a gig a couple of months ago, it was brilliant to see him. 😀 😀 😀

However, I have been great fans of Steve Earle and the Dixie Chicks ever since they took a stand against the US Government (and us) for the unprovoked attack on Iraq which was destined to failure as has every Western military expedition in that part of the world and with the benefit of hindsight helped, eventually, to create Daesh.

Steve Earle, I saw at the Kelvingrove Bandstand gigs two years ago, but I did not realise until it was over that the Dixie Chicks were at the SECC this week.

I spoke to an old friend, John Collins, who is the Country deejay on Bauer’s City 2 network of fifteen stations around the United Kingdom including Clyde 2 in Glasgow and the west on Sunday nights at seven.

He described them as ‘still having attitude, edge and even anger; combined with astonishing stagecraft and musicianship’. You should hear John when he gets really enthusiastic about a band. Sunday nights at seven. 😉

This is their tribute to Prince and it’s slightly bootleggy and it ain’t the SECC but I won’t say where…