Archive for September, 2016

Some days you gotta dance Live it up when you get the chance ‘Cause when the world doesn’t make no sense And you’re feeling just a little too tense Gotta loosen up those chains and dance (Dixie Chicks)

September 30, 2016

And so dear listener, I’m getting bored of the one remaining issue involved in the anxiety diagnosis of a few weeks ago, so goodness knows how you feel. I hope it will be resolved soon and there is something important I need to clear up in these pages, but first….

Who was your first folk hero?

Mine was a man called Johnny Ramensky, who was born of Lithuanian parents, became a famous safecracker in the thirties, became a commando during World War II and ended up in Peterhead Prison. I grew up in Peterhead. There was a wee bit about him on STV the other night but it didn’t do him justice. 😦

Y’see Peterhead Prison was supposed to be impossible to break out of, but Johnny did it, according to the TV, five times but the TV got it wrong as my dad would have told it if he was still alive. Johnny had friends in Peterhead – ex-commandos and paratroops, including the father of a school-friend of mine who had served in Arnhem (think of a bloody Bridge Too Far) – and Johnny would break out of the prison, meet these guys and go for a couple of drinks and then break back in. 🙂

It was only when he couldn’t break back in that he would be reported missing but he’d give himself up a couple of days later when he was hungry. He died in 1972 with the Military Medal and with large looted Nazi treasure troves all over the UK.

So, as I say, who was your first folk hero? I’d like to know.

No, the thing I’d like to clear up is that I still like the job that I do, which is working with the homeless on a paid part-time basis, but as with any job when things change you do consider what you’re doing as a result of issues outwith the project.

So, it is time to look for an additional project but that does not mean another job. To a certain extent that was what the university involvement was or the voluntary work with Alternatives – the rehab in Clydebank and Dumbarton – and if there’s income or funding then so much the better. 😉

I work an average of sixteen hours per week and that’s a good basis to build on…….and with the universities back it’s time to go flyering again but with UWS (Paisley) I may need a guide or a ball of string.

So any, and all, suggestions considered. Seriously.

And I have my first Gaelic lesson this week. And spellcheck better get used to it. There’s not a materialistic end in sight – just a desire to talk to some bi-lingual children I know – but if it leads to anything else, then there used to be a person inside me who would welcome that. And hopefully still is. 🙂

Maybe at the moment, I’m still a wee bit anxious about things. I did something that I thought was for the best and now regret it. One day I will tell the world. But a big thanks to Holly the Dog for getting me out even when it’s wet and welly boot weather. Even if I do wear my jeans outside my boots.

Let’s move swiftly on.

Happy Birthday J. 🙂

You certainly don’t look it but then, as you so rightly said, neither do I.

And finally, for various reasons I found myself driving down to Renfrew (Happy Birthday, Debbie…..and the Dorritos are still fine 🙂  ) in my new car at midnight the other night.

Not every project has two workers on at all time – some have just the one and there had been a no-show. So I went and it was good fun, but as always, it’s nice to see the next shift at the other end of the front door camera knowing you can go home and this was when I learned how good my new car is.

I had been dreading the journey home at 7.30 – commuter gridlock time – but every other car on the M8 Eastbound seemed to know its place and gave way. As a journey it was fun – as I listened to one of the four radio channels I have programmed in the radio.

Yes. It did come with a full set of pre-programmed radio but, unfortunately my attempt to add a couple more led to my mucking up the whole cat’s crystal…and I lost everything. However, without knowing what I was doing, I have managed to tune in four channels – Gaydio, a Glasgow Celtic music channel, BBC Radio Scotland and Radio 1 – but two of those are completely new to me. Can you guess which ones, dear listener?

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

Johnt850, still fairly confident about life but never ‘braggadocious.’

So I was never asked to audition for Glow, which is’s answer to The Only Way Is Chelsea, but totally agree with comedienne Janey Godley’s comments about it;

‘No-one with ginger hair or freckles, or even someone who wears socks….where are those really hip young Asian boys that are super cool with their fancy cars?’ Indeed, it is full of white men and women trying to look brown.

It is not the Glasgow that I have come to know and love over the years (did you know I was brought up in Peterhead?); and it is not the Summerston that decided to accept me about twenty-eight years ago.

But they’re not even all from Glasgow! I see that two of the young ladies are described as ‘models and bar workers from Motherwell.’

Beginning Thursday 20th October at 7 pm on

I only ever had one conversation with the late, great Sir Terry Wogan and it took place in a Radio 2 studio in London (Egton House?). I was introduced to him and he said ‘Hello, John.’ And I said ‘Terry.’ That meeting has lived with me for ever.

His broadcasts also introduced me Katie Melua and the ‘Closest Thing to Crazy’.


The worst has happened. It can only get better (and the person who said that to me wishes to remain anonymous in case it all goes horribly wrong in the future.

September 23, 2016

And so dear listener, tonight’s show will be totally anxiety-free. I will not mention the incredibly steep descent from the very back of Kilmarnock FC’s ‘away’ stand which had me terrified as the end of the game came closer and closer (but I survived) or the fact that, on my first visit to Paisley for some time (to see uni-Sharon), I got confused as to which lane I should be in for going to the Lagoon – which is a gym and sports centre whose car park I use for that side of town…..but I made it another bar-diner with no problem a few days later. 🙂

Instead let’s go back to some of the simpler and happier pleasures which used to permeate this blog. Like the new car……… 😀

It has a USB point (gulp) through which I seem to be able to charge my phone (but not to use the phone altho’ I have been guilty of reading texts at lights and maybe replying ‘ok’ or ‘15 mins’) but I do wish I’d a Go Pro to show the world the twunt who, having seen me leave a reasonable gap between me and the car in front at a pedestrian crossing (lights at red), nipped in and then ten seconds later, he parked and flipped me the finger when I looked at him. Life’s too short……

And people like the colour (Deep Impact Blue)…….lots of people still to see it though and, given my feelings of recent weeks, I’d like them to see it and be driven in it – if only to read the instructions so I can set the DAB radio.Which I seem to have unset.

You know who you are.

And then there was the pleasantness of childminding/putting to bed  AJ and RJ (and can I just point out to anyone to whom I said that RJ was three years old, she is in fact four but she’ll thank me for losing the odd year from her life in the future) 🙂

And running into a wee period of birthdays which I’m really keen to celebrate as I’ve bought loads of presents before my money runs out (monthly payments for the car)

You know who you are.

And I understand that Tennent’s have launched a gluten free lager and I’d be keen to know what that tastes like – from someone else’s description. Even before Cold Turkey Sunday I’d a poor opinion of non/low alcohol lagers and I have been offered such drinks in the last few years but I do think drinking these would send out the wrong message. 😦

If I don’t miss alcohol then why am I drinking something that looks like it? It’d be like breaking up with a good looking girl and then going out with her frumpy twin sister. (Skippy, are you sure about that analogy?) 🙂

And I’m going to start editing again. I had been told (by my business partner) not to take any on in September as August had been soooooo busy but I got asked to do 14,000 words and I said no but what I need to do is just be careful what I take in.

I enjoy doing it. There’s an intellectual challenge in helping people to get their message across; there’s money in it; and I enjoy helping people.

So flyering unies needs doing altho’ quite a few of the unies have changed. I’ve seen UWS (Paisley) change from the outside (as it were) but not yet seen inside and they’ve been working on Glasgow Caley Uny for years……..and one of the worst aspects of all this is that unies are tending to install closed noticeboards. 😦

You know who you are.

And finally, whilst I have no intention of getting involved in the current argument as to whether one lesbian calling another lesbian a dyke is homophobic or not, I did see the performance by Whitserface on social media and what I saw was an appalling piece of theatre – badly performed and totally unfunny. But what do I know?

Johnt850, white, heterosexual and (probably still) middle class

But I am still wearing that badge and keeping it simple.

So it is exactly five years since I enrolled in Drink’n’Drugs at UWS (Paisley) and I remember my first day as if it were yesterday. I was full of trepidation but I needn’t have worried. Everyone was jolly friendly and whilst I may not have ended up doing the kinda job I thought I’d end up doing, I am happy (recent issues excepted) doing the job I’m doing. 🙂

But it was more than just obtaining a qualification for a job.

It was about testing myself academically and in a subject very close to my heart having cold turkeyed five years previously. I learned a lot more about my own alcohol dependency and the fact that it is not a lifelong illness. I learned this through developing academic skills, which weren’t that dissimilar to journalistic skills in that evidence, and not blind belief, was important – something missing in a world where the idea of an expert is belittled by politicians – and if you don’t support the same political party, then some people have no intention of giving your argument any credence.

But I made friends, some of whom I remain in good contact with. They range from uni-Sharon, Caroline, Jo and Jo and Audrey, to J, the blog’s favest librarian (and tbh, J was the only one of the library staff whose name I knew but they were all brilliant), and lecturers like Iain, Dougie and Ken.

Whatever I am, whatever I have become is my responsibility but I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Paisley and miss much of it.

Oh, and Shirley and Neil and Fi and Cameron and Big Peter upstairs in the library and Anne and Nessa and Ewelina and the lecturer mate of Dougie whose name I never learned but had some great conversations with him and the very nice young man in the uni-shop who thought I was a lecturer and gave me ten per cent discount and Borgia’s where I was served weird (veggie) lasagne and can I just mention J again for encouraging my current interest in country music and this was recommended to me by top Radio Clyde country deejay, John Collins. Just click the link and hit the picture…….

From Braemar to the son of God: Robbie Shepherd Takes The Floor for the last time

September 16, 2016

And so dear listener I went back to work with my first nightshift in five weeks and I enjoyed it. And altho’ there are still issues to be resolved, I felt quite happy in the twilight world where I work.  One of the service users, on knowing I was coming back, had bought me a small cake – pretty much pure pink sugar with cream but the sugar buzz made sure I made it until 7.30 in the morning without any drowsiness and well beyond. 🙂

But it’s been a difficult four weeks being signed off with ‘anxiety and depression’ – although as I have said, I’ve been more anxious than depressed.

And the main issue has not gone away and altho’ there are people out there with much bigger issues than mine, five weeks ago, I had got through a difficult weekend and had had a smashing twelve hour night shift and had had two hours sleep and then I got an email about the issue and I just broke down……..tears and shaking. 😦

So I did what I told you at the time; I wrote a Post-It to myself – ‘phone doctor’ –and went back to bed for a very fitful sleep.  The next day I phoned the Green Zone Surgery at Maryhill Health Centre at 8.30 and, if I needed any confirmation of my anxiety, it began to show. I was worrying whether their phone system was working properly, had they changed their phone number and not told me or……well you get the idea.

But, none of the above. I got Doctor Fiona; we talked and I got signed off for four weeks. I phoned the work from the Health Centre and after a minute or two of disbelief they were fine.

And then the next set of problems starts.

I’ve been signed off from this current job a couple of times before. The first was a throat virus infection thing which built up over a twelve hour Saturday dayshift and it was obvious to co-workers and service users that I was not well; the other was when I planked, unintentionally, to the side and I had a huge bruise or several and a black support bandage. Not only was it obvious that I had a problem but it did my street cred no end of good cos of ‘the fight’ I’d been in. 🙂

But when it’s mental, it doesn’t always show.

So the first week was about telling people and because it was so sudden, I was still getting work related stuff by both e and snail mail which didn’t help; I spoke informally to my legal which did. But there is a guilt in that first week. People do make contact and some are quite comfortable in doing so; others are not so sure. And if I’m anxious and depressed, am I right to accept offers of coffee and lunch and so on? What should I be doing instead?

But a big thanks to those who did get in touch or, just as importantly, kept in touch telling me what was happening to them in an update on what they were doing. Serious thanks. It would be so easy to just think about myself and create my own little world. Hopefully, I didn’t.

And Dennis, I will be in touch.

I had settled down by weeks Two and Three and Week Four was about getting ready to go back to work, although I had to go in for a stress assessment first – which in itself was worrying.  But going back to work has not been a problem. My support team never ceases to amaze me. Thank you 🙂

Cya, still wearing that badge (which helped to keep me sane) and quite content to keep it simple

Johnt850, feeling good, looking fine.

So I was right to be paranoid about the tyres. All four valves were very, very, very slightly open and a little each day they were getting flatter and flatter but when I took them for a drive, they seemed to fatten. But one morning it was obvious that two were deflated (but not depressed) so the AA came and pumped them up (techno doesn’t do it for me as much as it once did). 😀

So the next day I bought a new car (although I had decided to do it a few days previously). Now, this is where a wee bit of the guilt thing kicks in. Was I in the right frame of mind to make this decision? Well, Son Brian came with me when I first went but I was trusted on my own the second time around.

It’s a nice colour (Deep Impact Blue) and the Eco-boost thing is where it switches itself off at lights, etc and you have to nudge the clutch and it kicks in again, so a wee bit of practice before I can do the boy racer starts. And I have to engage the clutch before I turn the key.

Dear car drivers out there, when was the last time you had to think which one was the clutch?

And on that note……..

One of the biggest buzzes I have had in the last ten years was when I did a live on STV’s The Hour about six years ago. I was talking about prostate cancer (now, there’s a surprise) and Stephen Jardine finished the 3’ 48” by saying to me,

‘Robert de Niro, Nelson Mandela and Johnt850 – all of whom have come through prostate cancer – successfully.’

(and I had to bite my bottom lip to prevent a small tear appearing in my eye which is not a good look on teatime TV)

This week? It’s me and Bruce Springsteen.


Those who hold others to account, must themselves be accountable (Vaz 2016)

September 8, 2016

And so dear listener, I do believe that this week’s headline does apply to much of my current situation (but for different reasons from Keith Vaz) but I’m still not saying too much about it. However, I’m now finished with taking stock and maybe it’s now time for making stock. 😉

No. That doesn’t really make any sense, does it,  other than to suggest a certain positivity which may have been lacking……but again can I say thanks to those people who contacted me and asked things, like ‘how are you?’ or did positive things like get that job (and some of you may know what I’m talking about) and that made me feel good.

And it means I can now tell this joke.

Me: Yes. Why do we assume that dinosaurs roared? After all, they could have talked just like us. We weren’t there.

Interviewer: No. I meant did you have any questions about this job interview?

But, as I write this and you read it, I have still not made my mind up about returning to work. And a certain anxiety remains but it’s kinda weird. Last night my left hand felt thicker than my right but today they both seem the same.

Just out of interest, gonna check yours? Please. Thanks. 🙂

But, it may be decided at a family meal taking place just now – even as I write this – and I may be in two places at once …..It’s a while since I’ve spoken about parallel universes….Skippy! Fire up the time machine…..I wonder what I’m eating and am I enjoying it?

No. It’s for Son Brian’s 30th birthday and can I just say to people who go, ‘don’t they grow up quick?’, that it’s taken him exactly thirty years to get to this age – the same length of time it took me. 🙂

Moving swiftly on.

A big thanks to listener Becky from North London for her book suggestions for what she describes as my ‘little readers’. I don’t think she means grown-ups below 5’ 6”; I think she means the large number of children I seem to have contact with at various levels of Kevin Baconness.  It was just amazing to know that there is actually a sequel to The Day The Crayons Quit (and not Went On Strike as I described it – giving away a little of my trade union background)  and I think two are now on my Christmas Present Pile.

And finally, I’m in process of buying a new car (altho’ the word ‘process’ does annoy me but since the business side of me is called The Word Process, I’ve got to be careful)…..sorry? Where was I?

The Clio I have is brilliant but I’ve lost some confidence in it. The new one may well be a Ford Fiesta in Deep Impact Blue and is a one litre Eco Boost (No. Me neither). I know that the colour is important to many people but once I’m actually introduced to the actual car I feel I should ask deep penetrating stereotypically male questions like……well, I’m not sure what they should be. 🙂

But I will kick the tyres. That always looks impressive. At least, I was impressed when a good friend did it to mine in February after a small altercation with a traffic island..

It seems to have a CD player. USB sticks worry me just a touch at the moment (No. No reason, I lied) but my thanks to Son Brian for his help in the purchase.

But soon, I may have to watch the pennies and a freespending me might be  a thing of the past which is why I’m stockpiling birthday and Christmas presents now 😀 😀

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Johnt850, as flamboyant as any flamingo.

So I’ve been doing a lot of reading, including some of my academic books (drink’n’drugs), but also some mental health stuff including some websites as, at one point in my academic writing, I was keen to highlight how our attitudes towards mental health have changed but that much of how we view addicts or those, like myself once upon a time, who are dependent on certain substances, have not.

But I’ve always had my reservations about self-help groups and that they simply serve to perpetuate a feeling that some things cannot be cured or it’s impossible to move on. It’s not that I’m against AA but I do have concerns about an organisation whose existence depends on people believing that alcoholism is an incurable disease based on no evidence but a belief – and that’s a whole big ball game for discussion and too much for here.

And I will say that AA does bring hopes of a life without alcohol to many people but the culture and the writing are over eighty years old and have never moved on.

But I want to quote, without comment, some selected words from Jennifer Boykin in the Huffington Post recently. Coming up for twenty-seven years ‘continuous sobriety’, she said,

‘I don’t believe in the language of recovery anymore. After decades of hard work, prayer, amends and general good living, I find it hard to think of myself as defective of character. Yes, of course, I have many fine points that could be sanded down when you compare me to my ‘Higher Power’ but all of the broad strokes and many of the others have long since been eradicated…..

I’m a free agent. It’s just God and me.’

And my point? Some of the mental health websites I looked at seemed to suggest that people (themselves saying this) would never recover. I think it can be done in almost any area; but all it needs is to share positive thoughts and positive questions.

There. That helped.

In a few months it will be time to think of the Blog Personality of the Year and regular listeners will know that it’s rarely a person. So a gig that J and I went to earlier this year would be a contender and the thrill felt by many when this man walked on. Ladies and gentlemen, here’s a recovered Kris Kristofferson

Every day in every way, I’m getting better.

September 2, 2016

And so dear listener, to a certain effect, that’s true but it’s all relative.

The phrase has been attributed to a Frenchman called Emile Coue de la Chataignerale – a French psychologist and pharmacist – who introduced a popular method of psychotherapy and self-improvement based on optimistic autosuggestion (Wikipedia so it must be true).

Apparently he represented a second Nancy School…….which I first heard as a funny but politically incorrect gag on Allo Allo when Renee talked about his non-existent twin brother who came from the French town of Nancy so he, Renee, must also be a Nancy boy. 😀 😀 😀

Which was much funnier than anything I heard in the first two minutes of the reconstituted Are You Being Served before I switched the TV off. Mrs Slocombe’s pussy gags were never funny but I have found a link to Steve Martin’s pussy gag and I’ll put it up soon (“ooooh, listen to me …what am I like….put it up soon…well Mr Grace, did you ever…but it was probably a long time ago”)

So, yes, I’m still off work but slowly putting things into context and piles – both physical and metaphorical (and not as I said to my sister ….metaphysical) but I’m also doing the things that stereotypically depressed people are supposed to do, but yes, I feel more anxious than depressed.

A wee example, if I may. Two weeks ago, the binmen did not empty my blue bin and mine was the only one in the cul-de-sac they missed.  That had me worried -had I offended in some way? – but earlier this week they came and lifted it and that’s fine. But it was a serious concern.

And I keep looking at my tyres, thinking they’re going flat…..

And I went to withdraw money from my Paypal account and OMG! THERE WAS NO PADLOCK IN THE ADDRESS!!!!!!! But the HTTP address thing was fine so I entered my password and carried out the transaction but it didn’t stop me going to the nearest ATM at about seven o’clock for the next two mornings.

And I know someone else who uses exclamation marks a lot, but I think it’s an endearing characteristic!!!!!!!!!

But I have cleared out the two drawers that contained cable and microphones and Scart cables which had been annoying me for some time and I have this  Inukshuck tea tin with tickets for Alabama 3 later in the year which I keep moving about the house to see where it looks best…’s from Canada – where the big sky comes from – which has given me my latest idea and I’ve bought a new camera solely for the purpose of seeing if the idea will work and I’ve now got it working. It’s just that I’m a wee bit wary of inserting memory cards and USB sticks at the moment. No. No reason. 😦

(At which point, Mr Humphries (?) walks in and says, ‘Need help inserting your stick? Leave that up to me.’)

The bees’ backpacker hostel remains empty but I am grateful to a listener, recently retired Susan from Beesden, who sent me a photo of her bees’ backpacker hostel (which looks slightly different from mine) with some interest being shown by a bee – but the big difference is that there is a sign saying this is Susan’s bee house – all bees are welcome.  J, you have an artistic bent. I may send you the materials for a much better sign.

But can I say a big thanks to R from Cardross, Ann from Prostate Cancer HQ, e and my now two year old grand-daughter (who actually does have a name and now a toy drill but chooses to remain anonymous) for getting me out of the house…..and, yes, of course I have male friends, which I think I said before is one of the most common questions I’m asked.

The answer to the other is, ‘No. I don’t.’ 😉

And I remember what I said last week about what I was reading. Well, I am currently reading a book called The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and it’s a lovely read. Now which member of the Book Club will get it when I’m finished?

And finally I’m doing a lot of walking….some of it back in the graveyard where I pounded all those miles all those years ago as part of a previous recovery. And I have the blister to prove it. It’s not a bad place to walk. You get a great view of North Glasgow including Possil Marshes which are an SSSI and, one year, were the source of a swan which stopped my train from leaving Summerston Railway Station. There was some form of Royal Prerogative which meant we had to get the Queen to move her. Luckily, she was in Poundstretcher down the road at the time so we weren’t held up for long.
Cya, still wearing that badge (altho’ it fell off twice this week) and maybe I’d forgotten how to keep it simple. 🙂

Johnt850, and my lawyer’s male and a friend.

And can I just say a brief thank you to all those who’ve offered help in various forms – even from a great distance?

‘How are you feeling?’ is an amazing question. …or saying, ‘I hope things are fine with you.’

But an even bigger thanks to the three (I think) good-looking women who have managed to lure me into West End restaurants this year and introduced me to the wonderful world of (non-alcoholic) desserts.

This is another good looking woman from the wonderful world of country……this is Carrie Underwood. Call it spiritual, if you have to call it anything.