Archive for July, 2016

‘Maybe just not every week……..’

July 28, 2016

And so dear listener, last week’s blog seemed to strike a chord with many people and can I just say that the train to Ardrossan Harbour was a  kinda metaphor for what I’m talking about – altho’ if anyone wants to go there, I’m more than happy to go with them. It’s more about re-examining things I do and seeing them in a different light, like two of my favest places – Byres Road and Firhill Stadium – ‘the field of dreams’. 🙂

And sometimes it’s seeing things you’ve become accustomed to through the eyes of someone else. 😉

Take for example, Firhill – the home of the mighty Partick Thistle. Young AJ had spoken to his mum, e, about going to a football match and it had been decided that a home game against Queen of the South was the obvious choice. I was more than happy. 😀 😀 😀

I won’t go into all the detail of the afternoon but there was a certain amount of explaining what was happening but not a lot. e has a coaching badge and AJ has seen it on TV and, whilst I was worried that boredom might set in by half-time, it didn’t. I liked the way that ‘our’ team kept the suspense going all the way through the game by leaving it at one-nil down before scoring the winning two goals in the last ten minutes……’we are Partick Thistle, we score when we want.’ 🙂

And we watched it from the Jackie Husband stand which gives a much better view than where I normally stand – in the North Stand (red’n’yellow) – and yes, I’d be happy to go back with e and AJ and, indeed, anyone else out there who’d like to take son or daughter to the first ever football match.

The downside? There’s not a lot of singing in the Family Section, 😦 but I’ll live.

And then there’s  Byres Road which I used to know intimately but I still know it pretty well but a lady called R, from out of town, who I should stress I know, told me she was coming uptown and would have her young boys with her and would I like to join them for tea? To which I said ‘yes’ and I did. 🙂

The younger was having his birthday the next day so I’m not sure whether this was part of the treat or not, but we ate burritos – and I wonder what the difference is between them and fajitas and we spoke of Casio watches.  So the next day, I went to the jeweller’s down Byres Road that sold it to me many, many years ago and priced exactly the same watch that I bought all that time ago. It is now £20 as opposed to the £9.99 I spent all those years ago and I can only accept Casio’s word for it that it’s water resistant to 50 metres. I don’t swim. 😦

But I was down Byres Road the next night with the blogmeister and we drank in Vodka Wodka – which I like. My appreciation of it was enhanced by the barmaid who, having poured my orange juice, put a straw in and took a sip. ‘That’s not right,’ she said and poured it out.

She opened another carton and gave me a fresh glass. Now, that’s what I call service. 😀

The conversation ranged far and wide but at one point touched upon a man called Billy Graham – an evangelist – who held meetings at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow which attracted thousands in the fifties and sixties. This was in the early days of television. There was no internet – no tweeting nor nothing like that. So how did he do it? Radio, and word of mouth.

Billy himself just trusted the word of God and spoke it like it was and it worked.

And finally, I bumped into former Divinity student and would be writer and former student of mine of so many years ago, Cathcart minor, who was clutching a decorated, 18 inch long, shoe horn (and I think Carry On movies have been made on less of a plot device). Basically, it was an interesting chat, but James, I have seen you move from boy to man over many, many years, but that beard…..maybe one day. 😉

Good luck with the writing and, as ever, if I can help……….

Cya, still wearing the Big Sky badge and continuing to keep it simple

Johnt850, broadcasting to you all and at the same time I’m talking to a student who is asking me things he or she should have asked his/her tutor months ago.

So when I was in Vodka Wodka I paused to look at the booze in the gantry and I don’t miss it but am intrigued at the range of alcohol available. When Billy was preaching, pubs were smoky places with a limited range of ale and whiskies and that was the scene when I started my drinking at the age of 16/17 but it is coming up to ten years since I cold turkeyed.

The blogmeister remembered the bit of the story of that night where I believe that I fought the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (an hallucination or not?) wearing only a freebie sweatshirt from the movie, Interview with a Vampire, and how I remained convinced that one of the horsemen was now a demon who lived in that sweatshirt. Obviously, I don’t now but I don’t dare throw it out. Wonder what Billy G would make of it all.

It’s a few months since J, my favest country music fan, introduced me to Brandi Carlile. I have a few songs which are part of my listening when I’m a bit down. Lots of Alabama 3, Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Green Day), Hey, You Come On and Dance (Walk the Moon) – all lift me up when I’m down….so does this 😀 😀 😉

Brandi and Hard Way Home. Inspiration in a CD. No. No reason.

Sometimes you dance with a partner and sometimes you dance alone. But the important thing is to keep dancing (Jack Canfield)

July 22, 2016

And so dear listener, I don’t know about you but I enjoyed writing last week’s blog and I hope you enjoyed reading it. I enjoyed being somewhere  new (at least as far as the blog was concerned) and I felt fresher and we shall ignore anything untoward that may have happened during my visit. 😦

 I’ve spoken quite a lot about libraries in recent months- for a number of reasons – but the Mitchell has always played a big part in my life. I think I mentioned that it was once a source of money for me in my early broadcasting days when I supplied the ‘And in this week ten/twenty/thirty years ago….’ feature for Jimmy Mack’s Old Golds. The research for that was done in the big room of the Library where I had to put in a written request for the vast tomes that were the Daily Record or the Daily Express for 1959 or whatever and spot the gem.

That was xx years ago and it wasn’t that long ago that I was putting in written requests for Inter Library Loans at UWS (Paisley) Library only to be told in a very nice and gentle manner (thanks J and colleagues) that these things already existed in Paisley – they were on the computer. 😉

And then when I started to be a serious researcher, there was the joy of the micro-fiche. Where did all these micro-fiche fish go?

Ah, the joy of keeping it simple. 🙂

Cos it’s been a horrible week – primarily cos of the router/modem issue and the waiting in on both Tuesday (I was given the wrong day) and Wednesday before it (and the television box) arrived followed swiftly by a man called Tommy who put it all together for me and I was back hacking into NASA and GCHQ (ish). I feel as if I’ve been stuck in my house for an eternity. 😦

(And the Mitchell has/had the Glasgow Room where many years ago I was able to purchase copies of GPO maps (ten/twenty/thirty years apart) of that part of Kelvindale where we had bought a house. I wonder what happened to them?)

So big thanks to e for getting me out of my house and a trip to the Lighthouse. There used to be a lighthouse near where I was brought up in Peterhead called Buchan Ness and if you ever asked my mum about it, she would tell you, as mothers do, about the time when I was two and we were having a family picnic in the area around the lighthouse when I fell into a pond and she had to buy fresh clothes for me.

She would have hated it many years later when me and my then accountant were staying with some friends in Carradale and me and a mate went to pull in  small boat to go for a wee trip when my wellingtons slipped and I slid into Carradale harbour. Your life does not flash in front of you but your face goes helluva red. And just to add to it, a few days later I was on a fishing boat for some overnight keeling and hauling and I heard the skipper say on the radio to another skipper (cos you work in pairs), ‘you’ll never guess who I’ve got on board. Aye. The Glasgow boy who fell in the water and near drowned.’

No. I can’t swim. Why do you ask?

Anyway  e got me out of the house just hours before a shift by inviting me to go with her to an exhibition of photographs of old and falling apart houses in the Western Isles taken by the former drummer of the Buzzcocks, John Maher, which was quite fun and was about their renovation……..and promoted a thought. Maybe I should take the blog on the road over the next wee while where possible.

Y’see when I was at Paisley Uny (and I did more than talk to library people) I quite often took the train to Paisley (at least in the early days before I discovered the multi-storey car park) and the front of the train said Ardrossan Harbour and occasionally I felt like being a real rebel and just staying on to there and just paying the difference.   😀

Incidentally, I have to admire e’s Sherlock type skills. Noticing that, in one of the pictures, there was a ladle hanging by the fire and it had an inscription, she leaned in to read it. Out Loud. Slowly.

‘You’re. Never. Too. Old. To. Spoon.’ We moved swiftly on.

So I’m not too sure where that leaves me. I might be going to Embra this week and I might be going to Larbert. There’s tickets booked for a couple of gigs at the Kelvingrove Bandstand in  about three weeks time and there’s nothing to stop me getting up one morning and just going. Somewhere. Taking the blog on the road. Let’s just see. 🙂

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


But there was one scary side to the week. I got really infuriated at the waiting. And ten years or more ago, I would have dealt with it by drinking alcohol to settle me and that’s what my alcohol dependency was –a behaviour where alcohol played its part cos it was an easy fix. And then I discovered that the best way of coping was to slam a set of headphones on and go for a walk, but you can’t do that when you’re waiting. So I made soup. Or at least a stock for a soup……..and I calmed down.

It may be a strange coping mechanism but it works.

This is the Buzzcocks’ most famous ever single or, to put it another way, I couldn’t find a Youtube for ‘Orgasm Addiction’…….You’ll know this one, so please feel free to sing along….


If you take your foot off the accelerator, then the pedal goes back goes back to where it was. (Theresa May)

July 16, 2016

And so dear listener, last week, when I was wandering down memory lane and talking of coffee shops, I promised you that this week would be a wander down the road of drink, drugs, sex, rock and roll and cancer…and it would have been. But I’ve had problems – server problems – and somewhere along the way my very original and witty draft blog has been eradicated. Don’t ask.

So I’m sitting here in a window seat of the Herald Café in the Mitchell Library on an awkward stool looking out over the row of parked cars and the Avalon Bar and I’m quite happy; and I think the drink, drugs, sex, etc, will have to wait until next week.

And my roll and fried egg and potato scone has just been delivered.  🙂

This may be shorter than usual (and Skippy that’s not an innuendo) but it’s nice to have access to a working PC and I’m catching up on a lot of stuff. The library staff have been tremendously helpful cos it’s a wee bit more than just getting a wi-fi code but not much more and I have a coffee and a glass of water and Google and I’m happy. Because of the problems I may have drafted too soon. 🙂

I just don’t have online access at home but can do other stuff on a stick and bring it in. I just need to be a wee bit more careful with the stick, but I feel like a real writer at the moment so don’t spoil it.

Yes, I use Facebook and mail a lot but I have come to rely on the PC as a source of information. When J asked a couple of weeks ago for a suggestion for a football DVD for a grandson, I came home, went on to Amazon, saw 250 Greatest Goals and sent her the link….he loved it. The DVD – not the link.

Thankfully he seems to be unaware that I am a Partick Thistle supporter and do things like drive my pals to Airdrie on a wet Friday night to see a one-nil victory in the Right Said Fred League Cup and that was an inspired decision Davie B to turn left out of the car park. Shame about the motorway being closed. 😦

But e and AJ may be about to come to Firhill – the home of dreams – quite soon and I hope it’s a good game and, indeed, if anyone else wants to take a child to a very family-friendly environment for their first ever game, let me know. And just ignore what Tory Andrea Loathsome says about men and children.

(And a member of the library staff has just walked past and asked if everything is okay. Well, the egg was a bit runny but I don’t think that’s the usual library remit. Certainly it never happened in UWS Paisley but one summer I was allowed to drink my Lucozade until the ‘students’ started again and then I had to obey the rules and drink water)

And a pressie for my grand-daughter’s birthday was delivered the other day. I won’t tell you what it is in case you’re talking to her but again it was ordered online and I got a text saying delivery was underway and when I got home there was a card shoved through the letterbox saying it was in the shed. Surely not? I keep my shed locked. Buy my padlock is from Woolworths. Remember them?

I assume he carries a set of basic keys and just uses them. I may need to be in on Tuesday for the delivery of my new modem/router and television box. I’m told it’s easy to install; I may seek help.

But even finding the phone number for the Mitchell proved tricky as I looked in a now redundant book called Yellow Pages. There is no listing. I have a Blackberry. I Googled it.

And finally, I went to the Homeless World Cup during the week in George Square (as did other Partick Thistle fans such as Alan, Andrew and Bean (believe it or not that’s his nickname and not his birthname – I think) and it was brilliant. I saw Chile trounce Germany six-nil in a well fought match and as ever, homeless Scotland (male and female) did us proud. Shame the Queen Street refurbishment and the subway refurbishment is on just now as there was no casual traffic passing through George Square……..

And I think that’ll do me this week.

Cya, still wearing the Big Sky badge and still being asked what it means but always keeping it simple.

Johnt850, relieved that, hopefully, I will be back online next week, but I will need to come back here before then and will be happy so to do.

The 15th was Linda Rondtadt’s birthday. This is she.


“If you’re good at it, and you love it, and it helps you navigate the river of the world, then it can’t be wrong.” (passed on by Jacqui Low Partick Thistle director)

July 8, 2016

And so dear listener, firstly can I pass on my thanks to all those who passed on good messages on my birthday last week and, yes, I don’t look my age. It’s not cos I work out, cos I don’t, and I still have an inch or so to lose around my waist that I’m doing nothing about. 😦  At university, one of my nicknames was ‘Baby John’ and I’m not sure how I’d have got on in this world of IDing people who look under 25 and I know some folk don’t think this is the case (cos they’ve known me as I’ve grown up or since uny and don’t see the difference) but trust me I do.

(I don’t always feel it tho’ and there’s a driving licence that shows just how bad, physically, I’d got at one stage but some planned and unplanned lifestyle changes brought me back home) 🙂

But it’s been a week of taking stock and reminiscing (sp) and it’s great news, for example, that the Vampire Slayer is coming back to this country later this year and is already talking about meeting up. 🙂  I enjoy meeting people but learned years ago the benefits of using mail and Facebook just to keep in touch but it ain’t the same………

This should not be seen as a dig against anyone (particularly if we’ve met within the last twelve months or you work in the East End and our last meeting was in Frankie and Johnny’s in Easterhouse and my diary will always be flexible) but is a true reflection of my circumstances……I have plans.

So it was nice to meet up with a female friend on Monday night that I hadn’t met for a wee while and we did so in one of those places that have become so much a part of my life in recent years – a coffee bar. This was one called Tinderbox in Byres Road and it stays open until about 11. Nardini’s up the road stays open ‘til about 10 and there are others.

I think this is brilliant and am happy with being in places like this. How do they make money? I never ever feel under pressure to drink up. I’m surprised no-one ever gets locked in upstairs in Starbucks, next to the currently closed Underground, when it closes at (I think) 7.30 and there’s a place in Paisley where I occasionally have a leisurely (?) coffee with a good friend where once I remember it was a beef eating type of place with pints of lager and cuts of meat and other stuff I don’t do now but I won’t name it…..just in case it gets busy. 🙂

But yet, one of my first memories of Glasgow is of a coffee bar.

We would come down from Peterhead to Glasgow on holiday and altho’ we had relations here, we didn’t stay with them. Rather than choose between anyone we stayed in hotels at the Kelvinbridge end of town but we used to go to a coffee bar in between Queen Street Railway Station and Buchanan Street Railway Station called the Moka Bar. I would have a processed cheese slice in between two slices of processed white bread with a Coca Cola in a bottle.

One day, famous footballer Jim Baxter was sitting there with another person who we did not recognise but I went and got both their autographs – the other was John Greig.

And still on a footballing theme, good luck to J and her punt on France for Euro16

Cya, still wearing that badge (the one with the big sky) and still keeping it simple

Johnt850, who promises we will return to the usual format of drink, drugs, sex, rock, roll and cancer next week.

And a quick word on one of the big stories of the week.

At the time I believed war in Iraq was wrong and I was working at the BBC at the time and am aware of much that was discussed then and did not believe it was necessary.

However, I did believe there were Weapons of Mass Destruction. Why? Because we had sold them to Iraq. It’s what we do. We have sold to both North and South Korea, for example, and that included TCPs which we are now much more familiar with as a component of terrorist bombs or something that can be turned into sarin nerve agent, or as a fertiliser used to grow better potatoes.

Or how about Marconi and Tripod Engineering selling stuff to Irag in the eighties under the guise of civilian contracts that were destined for military use?

Or………I can go on, but I won’t. There’s a Tory leadership candidate on the TV downstairs telling the world how great Britain is and I know things won’t change.

But one thing Chilcot does show is the lack of a game plan, a structure, an idea for what to do after the big event – hang on……that’s Brexit, isn’t it? 😦

Last week’s musical choice was suggested by a grand-daughter (but not mine) and this is as well.

When I was younger, people like Robin Hall and Jimmie Macgregor (with both of whom I was privileged to work in later years) would sing this and we’d call it entertainment but I can’t find their version…..but please feel free to join in.

Then the order came down, dump everything and fix bayonets. You have got to fight for it today. (Private Walter Hutchison)

July 1, 2016

And so dear listener, I have just turned 62. Not bad, given that coming up for ten years ago, a friend of mine looked at me, lying comatose in a hospital bed, and gave me no chance of surviving the night……… but I did and survived much else a few months later. 🙂

It made me the man I am today (which is not necessarily as other men my age) ………..I will say no more than that but I do enjoy life in many ways. 😉

But the death of Caroline Aherene has hit home. My alcohol and cancer issues are, thankfully, well behind me.Hers never left her. I found dealing with the after effects of both at the same time the hardest thing to do. I will never forget my support team who were there for me (and the people who weren’t) and that is partly why this blog exists.

But my thanks to the many ways that people got best wishes  to me and my thanks to a co-worker who brought in buns which made a nightshift go very quickly.

But long term listeners will know that at one stage I talked of being 42 for ever (it’s an Alabama 3 thing) but various things that have happened in the last two years have made me adjust to being what I am (a private pension kicking in helped).

But I’d a great day on Monday (so maybe my birthday came early) and I went to bed that night looking forward to the next day, altho’ I’m always pleased to wake up. It’s a much under-rated pastime. 🙂

Basically, there’s been the money thang with the TSB. I got a phone call from a man whom we’ll call TK who admits they’re in the wrong but is still uncertain what to do as he can’t understand what went wrong. But I am promised my money soon time with goodwill payments and refunded charges etc. TK is not a man to be argued with. I obvs checked out his Linkedin and Facebook profiles and the latest pic in his Facebook profile sees him with a very powerful chainsaw……TK is most definitely not a man to be argued with. Turns out he is the TSB’s Senior Customer Services Executive.

And finally, but not the usual ‘and finally’ but a Monday ‘and finally’, a very good friend, about whom I was slightly worried, phoned and I felt much better. No. No names. No pack drill.

I know I could fire up the Google but I always thought that if you gave the names, you would avoid the packdrill but what do I know?

And so, a final word on Brexit. It has been said that much of the voting was a protest against well educated people as people decided they were in charge and not the experts who actually do know what they’re talking about. However, this was kinda put in its place, and I pass this on without comment, by the number of people (some of whom I spoke to) who didn’t realise that by voting to leave they were actually voting to leave.

And my thanks to an Englishman living in New York – John Oliver – for pointing out that the second most Googled question last Friday morning was, ‘What is the EU?’

And finally,  Roy Hodgson, you did not have to be an expert to know that Iceland were pretty good with long throw-ins, but a lot less arrogance in your players might have helped as well. 😉

And on the question of the Euros, J’s choice (France) has made better progress than mine (Spain) but there’s a long way to go, but I was intrigued by her question the other day,

‘jt, you know about Partick Thistle, but do you know anything about football?’ I think I know what was meant. 🙂

Cya, still wearing that badge and happy to be keeping it simple

Johnt850, and as Anna Magnusson would say, Afram Island!!!!!

So, as many of you know J very kindly gave me a bee house as a gift for the garden but there’s been little happening in terms of bees using it.

So I went on Facebook for help and changed my profile picture to that bit of my garden fence which supports the house and various people got in touch.

Now J had said to me that it was not a hive but I was to think of it as a Bees’ B’n’B. Ah, said I down the phone, ‘a kind of Bees’ backpackers’ hostel.’ ‘Yes’, said she……… So I shared this notion on fb and I would like to thank Julie, with whom I used to play hockey and who has more international contacts than even you, Rainforestriverman, for progressing this metaphor with a lovely word picture of ‘tiny bees with tiny rucksacks strumming tiny guitars and eating tiny pot noodles.’ 😀

Later the next day, I walked past the Blue Sky Backpackers’ Hostel in Berkeley Street and smiled. It still doesn’t stop me, listeners, from standing at the kitchen door window, shouting, ‘Where are you bees? Where are you?’ My next door neighbours gave up on me long time ago.

And tonight’s closing piece of music has been played many times before, but I was told recently that someone else’s grand-daughter really liked it, so I am under instruction here….