Archive for December, 2016

‘I’ve always known that I had this strong inner camp. I’ve just never quite revealed it in this way’ (Ed Balls on his Strictly experience and my quote of the year)

December 28, 2016

And so dear listener we come to that long anticipated moment in the year when it’s time for the Blog Personality of the Year. I think this is the seventh such show but I do know that I never ever thought that the blog would run for – coming up to – eight years. It was basically designed as a way of keeping people up to date on the progress of my cancer treatment but it seems to have just kept going – with a will of its own. 🙂

I have never kept records so I’m not too sure who or what has won the various categories in the past but I do know that only one actual person has won the Personality Award and she was three at the time – and she actually got a prize, which was a kite. Which reminds me, e…….. 😉

And last year’s winner was the little house on the prairie for burning incense that J had brought back from Canada, which indicates the high standard of award. 🙂

Anyway I see the stretch limos are pulling up; the guests are in their finery; and the sea bass is to die for.

So, strike up the Strumpets, Skippy and let’s get started.

Let’s start with the Team of the Year Award. At one point, earlier in the year, a group of women called the Johnstone Jaunters were the main contenders but since I first met them, I’ve not been to Johnstone and, therefore, I’ve not jaunted there either. Nothing to do with them as they are an exceedingly nice bunch of people, but the best-laid plans….but a promise is a promise, Patricia and Sharon, so I will be back. 😀

But I’ve since made contact with another group of like-minded people and it’s been fun. I think there will be a serious side to things come the new year but, in the meantime, I would like to say a big thanks to the people in my Gaelic class, so I will;

Tapadh leibh tha thu ann an Sgioba na Bliadhna

They are the Team of the Year and I hope the fun continues. 😀

A couple of years ago, I introduced a (musical) Track of the Year Award and it went to Zombie by Jamie T and last year it went to  Come On and Dance by Walk the Moon. This year I, with various good friends, went to a few gigs and they were all good….including seeing Kris Kristofferson at Celtic Connections – which reminds me…..someone has still to look at this year’s brochure

And I’ll be mentioning Alabama 3 quite a lot – later.

But seeing the Waterboys was brill….and their version of Purple Rain was amazing. Their very special rendition of that in the Chris Evans’ studio will be the piece that plays us out at the end of the show. As a radio producer, I was always amazed at how many people (and instruments) you could get into a radio studio and what you see is not unusual. So Purple Rain by the Waterboys is the Track of the Year.

And so dear listener, we come to the Lifetime Achievement Award and it’s something I don’t have to give any reason for awarding it other than to say I was overwhelmed by the number of votes that came in for this person. I think it’s her Big Sky philosophy that has made such a difference to so many people’s lives (well, me and Skippy) and her kindness in opening my garden earlier this year. So, ladies and gentlemen, this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award goes to

J…….and it is soooo well deserved. 🙂

So we move to the Personality Award itself and we’ll do it in traditional 3-2-1 fashion.

In Third Place, is somewhere I had not visited for a long time but I had a marvellous time walking around the island of Cumbrae with five marvellous women and it was just a lovely day and I felt quite a special achievement for us all….the chips in Largs just being part of it….. :)……

And then I have a problem. For the first time ever, there is a tie for First Place with an equal number of votes cast for each contender. And there is nothing in the rules to allow for this situation…..So I tossed Skippy in the air and she came down on both her head and her tail….so it is a tie for First Place, for the first time ever.

So, please step forward to the podium,

The Bees, a fabulous book by Laline Paull, and the amazing Alabama 3 who happened to turn up in Glasgow on the tenth anniversary of my Cold Turkey (and thanks to whoever ‘up there’ arranged the whole night) 😀

The Bees changed much of my reading habits as I’d been much more of an angsty reader in my various selections but The Bees is a book written to give pleasure purely from the act of reading – no WhoDunnit where you try and out-do the detective or ghost-written sports autobiography where you learn of how the hero overcame so much to become a upper sports hero – but neither of these will ever out-do the achievements of Flora 717. 🙂

The book also gave rise to a bee backpackers’ hostel on my back fence and a chocolate bee which is currently sitting on my dining table.

And, at Kris Kristofferson earlier this year, at one point he seemed to call out the name of my companion and said, ‘this one’s for you.’ Watching A3 with the same companion, I felt they were all for me and everyone and anyone who has ever been through that spiritual process known as recovery.

And so dear listener, this has been one of the closest contests for years and every vote did count so thanks to all those who voted but if your favourite didn’t make it, well there’s always next year.

For me much happened last year including anxiety and depression and a new car but I owe so much to my amazing friends – not all of whom are women. Next year already promises interesting times as, apart from anything else, I start to work part-time days as opposed to part-time nights. I also intend to stay as friend with all those who’ll have me – even with all my idiosyncracies. 😉

And if I have one revolution for the new year, it is to get back to the fitness and girth size that got me round Millport all those months ago.

Feasgar Math, Iaint850

(And it may be one of those occasions when you have to actually click on the link)



‘We close on Monday or) Tuesday 27th) My 3 sisters come from Korea. I miss them ten years. thanks’ (A genuine sign on a dry cleaner’s in Glasgow…isn’t that lovely?)

December 21, 2016

And so dear listener, this is possibly your favourite edition of the show; it’s the one that shamelessly plagiarises the pages of the Daily Telegraph and gives you, the listener, the opportunity to be the life and soul of the party.  It’s the Christmas Cracker edition which will give you a wee bit of a laff and I will obviously intersperse these jokes (?) with the odd comment to real people and then next week it’s the Blog Personality of the Year Awards.

Here goes.

Q What is the best Christmas present in the world?

A A broken drum, cos you just can’t beat it!

And J I’m really pleased we went to that place early for the exchange of presents. I mean, we were lucky to get a seat………(I think most people will be able to guess the ending to that one!) 🙂

(You get the idea?)

Q What do you call a cat in the desert?

A Sandy Claws

And Missie K I do hope I didn’t embarrass you in Tinderbox the other day by showing you how Alabama 3 move and groove live on stage – a shimmy to the left and a shimmy to the right and repeat – and, indeed, I do hope, J, that I didn’t embarrass you by doing that the other night – for real.

(What would I do without Princes Square for entertaining in town?)

Q What do angry mice send to each other at Christmas?

A Cross Mouse Cards

And Debs, No, I haven’t done that risk assessment. In fact given the amount of shredding I’ve done since the end of the SVQ I’m not sure if I’ve even got it. Oooops.

Do you bring in soup on dayshifts? 😀

Q How does King Wenceslas like his pizzas?

A Deep pan, crisp and even.

And, e, that was a brilliant Nollaig card designed by young AJ and I see it’s to help raise funds for Sgoil Ghaiidhlig Ghlaschu, which as you know has long been one of my favourite organisations and if it was them I helped last year, then just please ask again…… and have a good holiday. 🙂

Q Why is it getting harder to buy Advent Calendars?

A It’s just that their days are numbered.

And Ann from PCUK HQ, I’m thoroughly looking forward to eating vegan 😉

Q Why did no-one bid for Rudolph or Blitzen on eBay

A They were too deer.

And Sharon when you said the Grill in the Inn in the Park was near the station, did you mean Gilmour Street or Paisley Canal?

Q Which famous playwright was terrified at Christmas?

A Noel Coward

And finally, I’m just back from posting a condolence card. To someone in Peterhead. And I’m not going to say anything about putting things into perspective but to me it is a reminder that none of us are infallible and we often have a tendency to underestimate people and what they can bring to the world.

Cya, still wearing that badge and so glad I kept it simple.

Iaint850, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition (a line from an A3 song)

Nollaig Chrideheil dhuibh uile agus Bliadna Mhath Ur

So many, many years ago I shared various flats with a smashing woman called Viv (and occasional others) and it was like as if Viv was the template for so many of my ‘girl as friend’ relationships since. We stayed in some really crappy flats but I won’t say too much in case Harry the Greek has any legal representatives who read this blog. I think my favest was in Bower Street where the damp was soooo bad we had salmon fishing rights for the whole street. 😦

But one Christmas (possibly my first ever away from home) we were on our own in a flat in Otago Street shivering around the two bar electric fire wondering if any place would be open where we could go for a warm up (changed days, eh?) when the doorbell rang. It was Alex and Monica with Alex having liberated some booze from his dad’s drinks cupboard followed soon time by Brian who followed the booze and then the doorbell rang again and it was and so on and the party started and someone knew an Indian takeaway that was open and, several days later we emerged. 🙂

For some reason, I always associate this with that party and Greg was another that 2016 claimed.

Christmas is a tonic for our souls. It moves us to think of others rather than of ourselves. It directs our thoughts to giving (B. C. Forbes)

December 15, 2016

And so dear listener, the tenth anniversary of Cold Turkey came and went without any real issue except I emerged with a bad cold. I don’t know if it started on the night before Alabama 3 when we had the works’ night out or the day after Alabama 3 when I couldn’t even hear myself yawn; but it certainly wasn’t there the night of Alabama 3. 🙂

Yes, they were magnificent and it was nice that J, the blog’s favest librarian, also enjoyed herself despite, maybe, a wee bit of a worry there when a character, dressed as a monk with a V for Vengeance mask came on stage. But he did nothing. And she was full of smiles at the end. 😀

They are a band who are at their best live and indoors where the sound rebounds off the walls so, altho’ I had seen them once before down at Loch Lomond, it was so much better in the O2 Glasgow. And, yes, I did dance – or ‘jump around’ as someone put it J – and I did singalong. It was good. 🙂

I didn’t really do anything else but thanks for all the good wishes.

And I reckon the cold was the demons getting their own back cos they couldn’t get at me any other way.  😛

Elsewhere, as I write this, I have now finished my SVQ3 in Social Care after a year’s work. 🙂 🙂 🙂  There were some issues attached to this that led to the month of anxiety and depression but they all seem to be behind me now, so the certificate will soon be in the post and I can hang it beside my MSc, my two Post Grads and my first degree – except I can’t do that cos, and this was another issue during the year, I cannot find my diploma for my first Post Grad in Youth and Community Work which I got from Jordanhill College (which now longer exists) under the auspices of the Scottish Education Department (which no longer exists) and was funded by Strathclyde Regional Council (which no longer exists) – ‘but can someone not get you a replacement?’ I was asked……

But again thanks for all the good wishes but for something just slightly different. 🙂

Oh, and maybe the demons had a go at me through the fiendish invention that is 151. I had various Virgin internet problems (and my new phone not totally on stream at this point) and I did talk to them and I was reassured – except on Tuesday night when the recorded message told me that they were aware of continuing intermittent problems in my area of G23 and then went on to complete my Post Code!!! ‘Engineers are working on it but it is proving more complicated than expected.’

I rushed to my window expecting to see an engineer working at the box across the road but no such luck.

But Son Brian came over and sorted some things out and it may only have been a few minutes but it was well appreciated. I remember on a couple of occasions driving over to my parents’ house to put the receiver back on the phone as it had not been replaced properly and I had only realised this after about an hour of the engaged tone. Eventually, a neighbour, on finding this out, said just to phone him and he’d go. I think he got a glass of whisky for his trouble. 🙂

This was the same neighbour who would go in early each morning with a newspaper in the last weeks of my mum. ‘But’, someone said to me, ‘I don’t think she’s able to read the paper.’

‘No.’ I explained. ‘He’s checking to see if she got through the night.’

Sometimes we met as I left the house having stayed, at no notice, overnight.

Oh, and I’d a plumber in the other day to put in a new shower and he whistled The Great Escape all the time he was in – I haven’t yet looked under the shower base but is it people getting in rather than escaping?

And finally, it was a week of two lunches.

The first was the Service Users Lunch Out which took place at the World Buffet in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. It’s one of those places where you can eat as much as you want of food from all over the world plus a pudding and two drinks for ten pounds. It’s quite an interesting experience trying to explain some of the foods to people from all over the world – places like Sudan, Eritrea and Possilpark – but Pizza and sweet and sour chicken and chocolate ice cream are universal and were well enjoyed. 🙂

Equally diverse food was eaten by myself and e in our annual business Christmas Lunch (e being the closest I have to a business partner in We ate in the Hanoi Bike Shop where the sauce on the tofu was brilliant (but tofu is tofu the world over) and the dips and the sauces and the fishcakes were superb….but the best dish of all will remain a surprise as I may well serve it to my sister on Christmas Day

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and so glad I kept it simple.

Iaint850 and it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

So I was going to talk about SNP MSP Clare Haughey (No. Me neither) and her lack of willingness to let sinners repent even when they’ve apologised and been backed by Keep Racism Out of Sport and if she wants publicity, wouldn’t she be better to look at the suggestion that many SPFL clubs will soon be putting players on zero hours contacts but I won’t.

Instead, in a week when we are all appalled by the pictures we’re seeing from the Middle East as Donald Trump’s pal Putin begins to conquer the world, I defy anyone not to cry at these pictures of the wee Afghan boy meeting his hero Lionel Messi. Murtaza Ahmedi was the wee boy who came to the world’s attention with a torn supermarket bag over his shoulders with Messi 10 on it. This is them meeting. Or if there’s the tekkie problem I think there is, take your pic!

Recovery is not about the absence of substances; it’s about the presence of community

December 9, 2016

And so dear listener, this is the tenth anniversary of my Cold Turkey weekend – my unplanned abstinence from alcohol which saw me end up in hospital for nine or ten days and as a result of which I’ve not drunk alcohol since. 🙂

The weekend started on Saturday, 10th December 2006 and finished with a phone call to my ex-wife and her husband (the only number I could remember) at two minutes to eight on the morning of Monday, 12th December having gone through stuff seeping from my pores, hallucinations, demons and an out-of-body experience.  😦

And I was going to look back at those events in a retrospective kinda way but it’s a good week so far so I can’t be arsed and it’s still looking good. Stuff the retrospective; let’s keep smiling and be grateful. 😀

Y’see, I could also do the stuff about how I’m grateful to wake up every morning; life’s good but there are some things missing; and how the coping mechanisms I learned in alcohol recovery helped me through the cancer recovery.

But I’d rather talk about Hansel and Gretel and my panic over my new phone (but mind you, I may still make the occasional reference to the events and their repercussions)

Anyway, a big thanks to those nice people at the Citizens Theatre who donated tickets to the project where I work which allowed me and a nameless co-worker to take seven refugees to see the preview performance of Hansel and Gretel which is where they allow an audience of local voluntary groups and organisations to see the show the night before the actual opening. 🙂

And it was very good. Slapstick, in the form of a clown’s trousers falling down, is universal humour and gets a laugh anywhere and if the boys learned nothing else, they went home with the word ‘witch’ in their English vocabulary. 🙂

But a big thanks to the Corpie bus driver who took a very quick look at bus passes and just waved everyone on. And I walked back from the Citizens to Central Station cos it was such a lovely still night and the lights were really nice. 🙂 🙂

(One result of ten years ago is that, publicly, I seem very confident but privately I lack a wee bit of confidence and maybe I over-compensate which can cause its own problems).

And I’d a really good party with the folk in the Gaelic class (we did conversations where you ask a partner if they like a certain TV programme at Christmas and it was hilarious) and over the years I’ve enjoyed going to evening classes which have ranged from website design to mindfulness to various writing ventures and they’ve given me an insight into the thoughts and cultures of so many people.

(And early on I happily discovered the niche market of editing essays for students which is more, so much more, than just correcting spelling and apostrophes; it’s about helping people to get their message and meaning across using words which are often worth more than any picture. It’s also a brilliant opportunity to help folk in a way I enjoy and to bring in some money but I must stop reading friends’ mails as literally as I do and I should try to read them in the voice of the person who’s sending them. Despite my use of it, I’m not a great fan of e-mail)

And I’m writing this on Friday so it’s now preview time (altho’ I may do some re-writing over the next few days) and later today I have the works’ night out which starts in a Wetherspoons Chinese restaurant in Glasgow (did such things exist ten years ago?) but I will probably leave early as I want to get to Thistle v Celtic at night…..and let’s just say I’ve had better results on a Friday night and leave it at that.

Now following Thistle and working with the homeless, including refugees, were miles away from my mind when I learned to walk again ten years ago (my balance was totally f*cked and had to start sober life with the use of a zimmer) but I enjoy the football when I get there and I enjoy the job with its challenges and I’m looking forward to moving to part-time days with its fresh challenges. 🙂

(I think the worst time was the calendar year after I’d left the college cos line management offered me no support with either problem. I lived off incapacity benefit and my savings (including a Cadogan Street examination) and worked hard to recover and plan a future. It was later in my life before my pride would allow me to knock on the door of the bank of my sister)

And, as always, so many people to thank and this is no definitive masterlist but there’s the rainforestriverman, the blogmeister, the amazing e, and the equally amazing j, and the amazing Doctor W without whom much of my recent life would have been pretty straight, and Sharon and Jo and study buddie Fi, and Skippy, and Missie K and the Vampire Slayer and occasionally there have been fallouts…….but I still cry at the excitement of waking up every day – despite what I said earlier.

And Moira my addiction worker, who introduced me to the notion that I needed to change my behaviour; not just to learn to cope with an incurable disease – cos it ain’t.

And, for a divorced man who lives alone, there’s an amazingly large family – which is continuing to grow. No, Son Brian, I will never grow up but that doesn’t mean I will ever stop being proud of what you and the lovely KT have achieved in life…..thanks

(And thanks, Son Brian for your help with the new mobile phone but the setting for e-mails has gone and I’ve still to add so many names and the nice lady at 789 was very helpful but how many times do I need to prove I’m not a robot?)

And hopefully Saturday night will be spent in the presence of my favest country fan, j, and the amazing Alabama 3 who were also there for me during my various recoveries. OMG, j, I hope you don’t mind what you’re about to witness (parental guidance, etc)……..

And it was. Woke up Sunday morning and did not buy myself a gun but some Strepsels and my back hurts from the ‘jumping about’ that everyone in the O2 (including the lady with Christmas lights for a necklace) was doing. An amazing live performance which was a perfect anniversary treat for me and delighted to say that j, possibly a non-believer to begin with, enjoyed the show as much as anyone and everyone 🙂 x

Apologies for various tekkie hiccups but this is they…..

And this is they a wee bit more acoustically

Recognise them?

Take care and happy honkytonking but keep it simple, eh?

And my thanks to those who sent/gave cards for the anniversary 🙂



I get really drunk off that old book smell in the library……. Hammered? ……No. Grammared!

December 2, 2016

And so dear listener, I have a confession to make. In fact, I have several. And to me they’re important.  But maybe to you the reader, they’re not. After all, I was very surprised earlier this year when I reported the loss of an unencrypted memory stick which eventually led to the anxiety and depression month (and I’ll tell the full story in the Gaelic drama-doc I’ve started) and a number of people (some of them pillars of the community) said that they would never have reported its going missing. Their identities will remain secret until such time as I translate them into Gaelic. 😉

Maybe I believe in honesty too much. 😦

First confession;

When me and Debs and Caroline and the others do our fortnightly SVQ training, we break for lunch and go to a place called Boadicea (or similar) which is now closed on Saturdays but the Hillington shop remains open.  They do good soup e.g. cauliflower and cream cheese. They offer a veggie option. 🙂

So this week I chose potato and leek and took it back to the training centre and opened the carton. Somewhere on the journey back from Boadicea to my bit of the training table, it had transmorgified into Cock a Leekie…….what to do?

I ate it. And then I poured a gallon (or so it felt) of Lucozade down my throat to take the taste away. But nothing else happened. It is, after all, nothing medical or ethical and I still believe pea and ham to be veggie for some reason*. It can be a confusing world. But it does pay to be careful. 😉

I once met a woman who claimed to be the actress in that famous ad and I believed her. It makes for a much better story. 🙂

And I spent some time on Thursday explaining the existence of gluten-free soy sauce to Cathcart Minor and he sounded very appreciative.  How’s the facial hair, James?

But I do feel for vegans (and some others) with the animal fat in existence on the new £5 notes. Why did nobody think?

But it was pleasing to see top News Anchor Kay Burley being honest (on Sky News) about her ignorance of the subject and asking ‘the expert’ how to pronounce tallow. The expert was not caught out and pronounced it tallow.

I’ll miss Kay when I go to dayshift. 😦

Second confession?

The tree is ‘up’ almost but it is more than just ‘assembled’. The built in lights do work but are at their best in total darkness; so, dear listener, do I buy new lights for the daylight hours? (And anyone want to come and see them in complete darkness?)

And for those who know Summerston in darkness at this time of year, my next door neighbour has put up ‘those lights’ but has not yet switched them on. Over ten years ago, they guided me home at this time of year.  And if they ever extend the runway at Cumbernauld Airport…….. 🙂

And one of my own Christmas (never Xmas and I even read/hear Christians spelling it that way) traditions is to shout at the radio when it’s playing Band Aid that many of them actually do know it’s Christmastime ‘cos they’re actually Christians (and not Xtians).

My own religious beliefs? I’m not sure but I doubt whether I’m agnostic.

And finally, I was in the hairdresser’s the other day getting some of my hair cut and my hairdresser said that she had seen in the blog that I was going to the podiatrist and she asked how I’d got on cos she had had a twisted nerve in her back for some time and wondered what had been said to me.

Well, the choice I was given was either surgery or built insoles and wide toed shoes. J suggested I go with the latter and not for the first time I agreed with her. My concern had been that the damage was going up my legs and could permanently lead to damage. I walk a lot and I don’t to stop as I’m growing fatter and fatter. But it’s nice when this show leads to discussion.  🙂

(e, I too have a thirty day programme in mind but my latest new life will happen when I move to daytime working…….new beginnings)

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, looking forward to a Gaelic Christmas – this Thursday 🙂

So in one week’s time I will be acknowledging the fact that it’s ten years since Cold Turkey Weekend so most of the blog will be given over to that and it may appear a wee bit early e.g. Saturday.

It means a lot to me and it’s been great to have been able to share much off the last ten years through the blog as well as talking to people personally. I’ve never intended to sermonise or preach from this particular pulpit but have always been pleased when people have made contact (and their comments have often been removed) and I’ve been able to pass on some of my story.

It’s never about how I did it unless asked. It’s about sharing and trusting you, the listener, to make up your mind. 😀

Oh. And to all those people who say I should have put it all behind me, not only is there a soap opera on in the background where one of the main characters has alcohol problems, but in my Gaelic class this week, I was asked if I like beer?  My reply was Cha toil leam leann …..and you should have seen the look on the questioner’s face. What is the Gaelic for ‘it’s a long story?’

This week the music is from Dolly Parton, Miley Cyrus and Pentatonix (maybe next week it’ll be Alabama 3….watch this space) with a stunning version of Jolene from the American version of The Voice and not an instrument in site!!!!!