Archive for August, 2016

You can eat an elephant, but it has to be done one piece at a time (A friend being helpful)

August 25, 2016

And so dear listener, I start with many thanks to those of you who found, through the blog or social media or cos I told you, that I am off work with anxiety and depression – altho’ I think I’m more anxious than depressed but they’re both there – and it was nice to get offers to meet up from so many people that I know but it has become a wee bit of a balancing process……and my decision making is a wee bit slow. 😦 or 🙂

It’s been some time since I’ve had to try and fit people in quite so much but I will do it. I have the time and it’s been one of the instructions from the doctor. And I must confess to a certain physical tiredness at times but I put some of that down to erratic sleeping habits. There are still ‘to do’ lists in my head even if they are a wee bit shorter than before. And I’ll say nothing more than that just now – but thanks again for good wishes. 🙂

(There is more I’d like to say about my state of health and stuff but I genuinely have no idea who reads this and I want to avoid putting myself (and maybe others) in an awkward position but one of the symptoms is that, whilst I want to read, I can’t read books with complicated storylines – like the Crayons That Went on Strike to give it its wrong title)

But I did surprise myself physically the other day – driving through Hyndland – when I saw someone I’d not seen for some time. A guy called George, whom I got to know through my cancer treatment days, but whereas I have fully (as far as I am aware) recovered, George has had what seems like millions of complications and bits of other cancers floating about and continual testing. I had tried to make contact but somewhere that attempt had got lost.

Anyway, I saw him and threw the car into what loosely could be called a parking space and got out locking the car behind me and ran (!) like one of those runs you see fit policepeople do on TV when they see the gangster – including across the road and waving at cars to stop, almost leaping over a small wall and turning round the corner at speed and caught up with him.

He’s fine – thanks for asking – and he’s another cup of coffee for the list.

And, most importantly of all, I wasn’t out of breath when I spoke to him.

But Hyndland is a very douce place. I was taking counsel from e and Holly the Dog and we walked past a charity shop when someone went in and bought a top (as in kinda blouse kinda thing) as displayed by one of the mannekins, as I would describe them, leaving her naked from the waist up (the mannekin, not the…..). Within seconds, another assistant had gone to a rail of similar kinda blouse kinda things and got one to cover the mannekin’s embarrassment. Oh, how Holly and I laughed. 😀 😀 😀

And I have decided to learn Gaelic at evening classes (I’ve still to enrol but I will) and I’ve told a few folk and there are reasons and part of it comes from the Gaelic Sports Day where I tuckshopped and they seemed a good crowd and the listing for the class seems quite fun. I’m beginning to tell folk so it will happen. 🙂

Indeed, someone gave me some books and I’m not saying they’re old but Chapter Sixteen is about going to the disco. Em, disco, since you ask.

And I will say nothing about the Olympics other than I cannot believe how little attention was paid to anyone other than the Brits; how the medals table dominated, yet anyone getting to, say, an Olympics final had achieved something phenomenal; and how Team GB is an incredibly false marketing concept……. That’s probably enough because it did take everyone’s mind off the real issues like homelessness and poverty and war and armed French police telling women how they can dress.

Still, now that it’s over, maybe television will start telling us about these things again – without any distraction.

‘What’s that, Skippy, the Great British Bake Off’s just about to start. I’ll be through in a minute.’

Actually that’s a wee device to make a point with some humour. I didn’t watch Bake Off with all its innuendoes. I watched a programme called Great Canal Journeys with Timothy West and Prunella Scales….she of Faulty Towers fame and he of Eastenders but with pretend prostate cancer fame. Only in real life, Prunella has dementia and this is an amazing view of her and his life in a touching and romantic way, without it ever sounding maudlin. There is humour and pathos – and real life……

Cya, and still wearing that badge cos it gave me that idea and still keeping it simple with simple ideas.

Johnt850, not quite Usuain (sp) Bolt with all his lady friends but pleasantly surprised by my cool running.

And one final word on the Anxiety/Depression thing. A couple of people said things like ‘I’m sorry to hear that.’

No I’ve done something positive – nothing that people should worry about. I’m not getting taken away in a strait jacket nor am I stereotypically refusing to leave my house or my bed.

I have seen people close to me suffering from such things…….and of course, I’ve done courses. I heard an alarm bell ring and I did something. It may mean that that bell never goes again and I hope so but if I’d ignored it, then who knows…….

I promised someone I’d play this. Thankfully it’s a version by Three Dog Night and I firmly believe those hairstyles will come back but not for me – not with the number of times I go to my hairdresser!

I never did learn how to follow the rules I never was good at sleeping while the moon was full (Brandi Carlile)

August 19, 2016

And so, dear listener, this could be a tricky blog to write. Earlier this week, I was signed off for four weeks with ‘anxiety and depression’.

Now, I don’t want to say too much about possible causes and symptoms as basically I’m under doctor’s orders to clear my head and get some rest before making any decisions. There is, I feel, a lot to do in that particular clearing procedure and I’d rather not comment publicly – but a head full of mince is not a good feeling when you’re pescatarian.

But the actual process is interesting – the coming to a decision that crying over a keyboard is not a good thing. There’s lots of things happening in lots of places and I could feel various pressures but you can put these things down to various issues.

However, it came to a head last weekend. I did not feel in control and treated someone badly. Other things were going through my head.

I worked a nightshift and that was fine but other things were still happening in my head on Monday. I know. It’s all very non-specific but I’m afraid at this stage it has to be – for all sorts of reasons.

So, I gave it some thought and felt at the very least, I had to talk to someone. A doctor would be good.

My surgery is based in the Maryhill Health Centre which is about to close and be replaced by an all new, all-singing and dancing Centre just along the road but I do hope they don’t change the appointments system. It’s one of those where you phone up at 0830 and ask.

So, I did, and I got a ten o’clock appointment on Tuesday with Dr F – a lady doctor who has been involved in many of my most important life – threatening decisions. It was F who, almost ten years ago, told me I had too much alcohol in my bloodstream and to cut back slowly and then they would be in a better position to help.

“Whatever, you do, don’t cold turkey!” And it wasn’t her fault that I did, but that may have saved my life – in many ways. It was F who, several months later, told me that it was worth going to Gartnavel Hospital to get some tests carried out – which led to my cancer being discovered.

And it was F who, after my cancer had been confirmed at Gartnavel, brought me in for a two o’clock appointment which lasted thirty minutes to talk the diagnosis over – and you should have seen the daggers of looks that were directed towards me by her 2.10, 2.20 and 2.30 appointments.

So we had a chat and the upshot was that I have been signed off and I have no intention of thinking about a return to work for a few days yet. There are people to talk to. And I will.

So that was the process and I’m glad I did it.

I’m also currently saying no to editing academic essays but I did finish off a couple I’d started cos that’s fair – and I believe in fairness, responsibility and integrity but I do worry about those to whom I’ve said no.

So I’ve contacted a few people and almost all of then replied with ‘do you want to talk about it? I’m here if you need me’, which was so lovely – cos I know some of them have problems of their own and job interviews and all sorts of stuff but they seem to care…..which is good.

So I’m doing the fresh air thing and a big thanks to Holly the Dog (and e) for being the first to get me out – a letter needed posted or something similar and as I write this, others are making arrangements.

I was never ever in any danger of falling over the edge but I was aware of where the edge was on the mental Sat Nav  (and that does sound a bit convoluted but at least I’m avoiding U2 gags) and I felt well enough yesterday to make a relatively big financial decision without breaking into a cold sweat and if I want to eat a Waitrose Chilli and Prawn Pizza for lunch with the rest for tea I can and, j, I told the neighbours that the reason I was going into the back garden at 3 in the morning was to see if any bee backpackers had slipped into the bee backpacker’s hostel. (Actually, that doesn’t sound too normal, either, does it?)

There is no shame in what is happening/has happened to me. I will keep you posted.

Johnt850, still wearing the BigSky badge but we reckons that if I do carry out my photographic exhibition idea, then I should do it early morning or I’ll get knocked over.

Now, in the last couple of weeks I mentioned music that meant a lot to me, particularly if I was feeling down – Walk the Moon, Alabama3 and the Free Electric Band guy – but I also mentioned this…..Thanks for listening and I’m fine, thanks. Thanks for asking.

I saw the crescent; you saw the whole of the moon (Mike Scott)

August 11, 2016

And so dear listener, for me there is more or less only one story in town but it spins off in more ways than a human centipede has legs (and that was possibly the most grotesque movie I have ever seen and I was distressed to learn the other day that it has a sequel…..yeugh). 😦

What happened on Monday night was that e and I went to see the Waterboys at the Kelvingrove Bandstand in the leafy West End of Glasgow and it was dead good. She and I have a wee tradition of going every year and this year we started off with a cup of coffee in Nardinis in Byres Road. 🙂

It’s a way of not getting there too soon as I suffer quite often from the syndrome known as Premature Arrival and although some may see it as a family trait, I see it from the days when  I produced live radio programmes and I strained at the leash to get into the studio to get set up. Even on daily shows, that feeling never went away.

And can I think the lovely Lauren, daughter of @soulboydaviebee for showing us to our concrete bench and I had brought cushions.

Anyway, the Waterboys were absolutely amazing and they played Peace of Iona and they played Glastonbury Song and they played Roll over Beethoven and they played Raggle Taggle Gypsies O and they played Fisherman’s Blues and they played Whole of the Moon and they took a bow and they walked off but the roadie didn’t. Always a clue. And they came back and they did Purple Rain and that’s what I will finish tonight’s show with – the version recorded in the Chris Evans Radio 2 studio. 🙂

And I know there are people who will be amazed at the number of people squashed into the studio but you can do anything in a radio studio. Yes. Even that. I’m told. But make sure every mic is switched off. 😉

I produced one show in which we did this live. It’s a form of dance known as Capoeira (have you ever danced it, j?) or at least that’s what the Brazilian slaves told their slave masters when, in actual fact. it was the slaves keeping their fighting in good trim for when they came to fighting for their freedom.

And at the Bandstand e and I sang and danced as did many others but we did it cos of what we were listening to and we had had no alcohol. Now I have nothing against bevvy – it just doesn’t work for me these days – but I do know that many of those considering giving up/cutting back on the bevvy worry that they will become boring.

Boring? You never ever talked to a drunken me discussing radio. Did you? I don’t think I can ever now be described as boring. Life is too amazing. 😀 😀

But I do know a few folk with things that are worrying them just now and I wish I could have brought them all to the gig in a charabanc. But some good news from some of them during the week.:)

Indeed, I have some issues, some of which are work related and so I can’t comment but I have brought in my union, the National Union of Journalists, to help and advise. And I am proud to be a member of the NUJ as I believe that to protect democracy and free speech we need the trade of journalism, which hopefully will never be replaced by those on Social Media who re-tweet and re-post without having even checked the validity and veracity of what they’re passing on.

Towards the end of All the President’s Men, there’s a scene where the Washington Post publisher tells Woodward and Bernstein to get ten sources to confirm the final part of the story before he’ll publish.

And as I was standing in the NUJ office in Glasgow, which it shares with equity, I could hear someone singing the Ballad of Joe Hill – in itself reassuring.

But we live in a society where facts are becoming irrelevant unless they can be broadly twisted to suit an ill-thought out opinion – Britain First, the Brexit Bus and Donald Trump.

But there’s a brilliant book called the Upper Pleasure Garden by Gordon M. Williams where the newspaper reporter hero was trapped in ‘the only job where they paid you a wage for finding men who built the Taj Mahal out of empty beer bottles.’ 🙂

I think the closest I came to that was the Potato Collector of Crieff who collected strains of potatoes that looked as if they were about to die as breeds (or whatever the right word is) of potatoes and he had this special jacket with millions of pockets in which he carried his potatoes and when he died, his wife took over the collecting. 🙂

But it’s not all been doom and gloom. The amazing Jenny H has been and gone and got herself a lecturing job in Wales and I will miss her as talking to her always gave me an insight into how academia can be relevant to people’s lives. Fisherman’s Blues was well deserved even if she’d never heard of the band…….just a very small age gap…….

And thanks to j, I have an idea for a photographic exhibition, and e, somewhere in that busy schedule of yours, you may end up helping me with it and it comes out of the Big Sky badge.

So the template’s kinda gone tonight as it occasionally does – but for good reasons.

So, for me it’s a mixed bag of a week but whatever my stresses are, I have ten days in December 2006 in Ward 8A of Gartnavel Hospital to set them against; and my favest moment this week? When e gave me a tenner to go and pay for the coffees; the waitress couldn’t believe the size of the tip I gave her.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Waterboys, Chris Evans’s studio and Purple Rain.

‘We have gone past the place where facts and truth and experts matter. Nothing matters but ranting opinion.’ Nicoll 2016)

August 4, 2016

And in case you’re wondering what the headline is about, it’s about not believing everything you read on social media or on the side of a Brexit bus – except many people did, apart from the people who put it there. 😦

And so dear listener, it was five years ago this week that SAAS, who pay student fees and stuff, agreed to pay my fees for my Post Grad in Alcohol and Drugs Studies at UWS (Paisley)and a whole new world opened up in front of me 🙂 and continues so to do.

Some folk questioned what I was doing. If I had to return to Higher Education should I not do something different from drink’n’drugs? American Literature? But I thought, ‘this subject’s my destiny’ and it worked. 😉

I’ve spoken often about the friends I made whilst there and those that I continue to see from both sides of the counter as well as the bandstand in Johnstone and (at one time) all the supermarkets in North Ayrshire and the time I disagreed openly with a lecturer only to be told, ‘You do know that if you openly disagree with a lecturer, they knock 10 per cent off your marks.’ 😦

That close to a ‘summa cum laude’, eh?

And it wasn’t just the uny. It was a brilliant placement at a Rehab in Easterhouse where I had one of the most emotional experiences of my life where I did a proper share where there was no table between me and the rest and there were questions and I finished the session realising that I had just told about twenty recovering heroin users things about my life that I could never tell family or friends. 🙂

And some volunteering down Dumbarton/ Clydebank way where, on going to the local sauna with some of the guys, I was told, by a former user, ‘you do realise that everyone in Dumbarton now thinks you’re a former junkie, don’t you?’

To my current job, as a part-time (paid) night-worker with the homeless in Glasgow, which I enjoy – even when it gets a wee bit frontline……..that and the editing I do. Interesting times,eh?

And I did mention on Facebook when sharing a wee video about the new Kelvin Hall complex (part of Glasgow University’s attempt to take over the entire west end) that I had recorded my first ever single at the Carnival when it used to take place there. No-one picked me up on it.

There were booths, similar to telephone kiosks (ask your gran or grand-dad) where you could record your own song and get a souvenir (but playable) piece of plastic that you could bore your parents with. I was aged single figures but knew there was something about this song that was different – it was a song of protest but I didn’t understand its links to the labour movement. My folks liked the bit where I went ooooooo – oooooooooo.

This is a version by Peter, Paul and Mary, which it explains itself and I may have been aged single figures but there was something about Mary I didn’t quite understand but I liked. 🙂

And finally, what did I learn from my uni-days? Well, I moved from describing myself as a ‘recovering alcoholic’ as I did on my first day to someone who just doesn’t drink and that was no big deal. All it required was an understanding of what was involved in an alcohol dependency, a planned change in behaviour and people who believed in me enough to see me through it until I got where I am today. ……today, where someone has just described me as having ‘integrity’…..if I did Facebook epithets, I’d say

Positive words mean a positive image

But I don’t. 😀 😀 😀

Cya, still wearing the Big Sky badge as people asking about it takes the heat off me as well as keeping it simple.

Johnt850, and I’ll always remember the weird lasagne in Borgia’s which showed my new friends my pescatarian leanings and my ease in a pub. 🙂

And one of the many things that I revealed during my uni-years was my hatred of 151 as exemplified by the recent router issue which led to a much more serious problem. 😦

So on Thursday of this week I came downstairs (0720) and put the TV to find out more about the London stabbing and the screen read;

‘Do not switch off Set Box. The box is updating and should take a few minutes.’

An hour later I decided to phone 151 and got straight through to Kerry who told me to switch the box off, wait a minute (we talked of the weather, school holidays but she’s busy this Saturday night) and switch it back on………and it worked. ’It must have frozen’ I think she said, so I turned the storage heater on. It’ll be fine. As will I.

Last week I spoke of some music I play when I’m a wee bit uncertain about certain things, which I do share with some people, but I worry if I do that too much. 😦

This was possibly the first ever song I would put into that bracket….Enjoy.