Archive for January, 2017

“Patience, grasshopper,” said Maia. “Good things come to those who wait.” “I always thought that was ‘Good things come to those who do the wave,'” said Simon. “No wonder I’ve been so confused all my life.” (Cassandra Clare, City of Glass)

January 26, 2017

And so dear listener, can I say a big thanks to those of you who communicated by various means and offered your appreciation of last week’s show and my memories of alcohol and the BBC, with a wee bit of libraries thrown in. It brought back good memories……..and my kinda TV presentation gig, that I talked about, lasted for the one and only series of the programme (Angles) which I couldn’t even find on a Google search ):

I basically played ‘researcher with clipboard’ who gave the viewers some background as to who the obscure guests were and got paid a Staff Contribution Fee which paid for my first ever SLR camera (a Praktica). 🙂

Another TV appearance was ‘man hiding behind newspaper in VD Clinic at Southern General’ but that’s another story for another day. 😉

This week has been different in that I’ve been off work with viral tonsilitis and my car has been off the road with bodywork problems which I thought would be a nuisance but it’s maybe helped. I am a patient person where other people are concerned – even if I do worry about things outwith (a good Scottish word according to the OED) my control.

But me? Why am I not doing this? Should I be doing that? Can I help? More so than the Anxiety period. I have been signed off sick for a week and I can only get better with rest and fresh air and if that has begun by walking down to the ASDA rather than driving, then that is no bad thing. 🙂

And this week would have seen the move to part-time days which I am looking forward to and a new system of (not) paperwork. The part-time thing is good cos it does give me time to do other things and one of the things coming up is the proof-reading season…….it could pay for the holiday I keep promising myself. 🙂

On the tonsilitis front, a couple of people expressed surprise that I still had my tonsils as theirs had come out ages ago. Some things I do not give up easily. I still have my appendix and, of course, my prostate. Concerns about the surgeon’s knife in that part of my body were amongst the reasons for choosing radiotherapy – however tiring that turned out.

And recent advances in the world of prostate cancer means that this will soon only take a few days rather than thirty-seven. 😀

And I feel I should say that apart from alcohol issues, cancer, mental health and planking without planning, my health has always been reasonably good but if there’s one part of my body that suffers at this time of year, it’s my throat.

So I cancelled the social side of my life last weekend (including going to a Gaelic gig which I had agreed to go to at short notice but had to pull out of……..if only I’d pulled out earlier, someone else could have got my ticket……..)

One nice aspect of going for the diagnosis at Dr Fiona’s was investigating the new houses that have sprung up behind the new surgery with some brilliant views of the hills and the canals. I saw these from the street; I did not walk unannounced into someone’s house.

I also overheard a conversation between two window cleaners which ended with one saying to the other;

‘That’s a dreadful attitude to come to work with; you come in tomorrow morning with the same attitude and I’m taking it to the boss.’

All this from two ladders perched precariously at second-floor windows whist a third collected money from the doors below. 🙂

And I’m grateful to Jill from the south-side for letting me have this quote from her Facebook page.

‘Quick question: what’s the protocol for when you’re sat feeding your baby in Costa .. you glance at your phone for a minute.. look back up and realise your little one has been carefully and methodically spooning his yoghurt into some woman’s hood.?

Asking for a friend.’

And I’m also glad I did question a friend’s cooking advice when he told me the best way to get good well-fired nan breads was to put them on the bottom of  the wok you’re cooking with;

‘No, jt. Once you’ve finished the rest of your cooking, so that nothing falls out.’

And finally, one of the first things I was taught in my most recent stint at uny was to question the existence of ‘facts’ in that proof and evidence was needed; a few years ago, I was introduced to the notion that if something is repeated often enough without someone checking the sources, then you were into the world of ‘factoids’; and now we’re going through a time when politicians and successful business people are telling us to ignore experts and present us with ‘alternative facts’, we may find it difficult to believe anyone and to know what to do next.

I have no answer; just despair every time I see the man knowing that he has become a role model for every populist politician in the world who sees ‘controlling borders’ as the way to political power. Let’s not worry about Brexit; in ten years there will be no EU – just a host of countries refusing to talk and trade with each other. And he doesn’t read books.

Tioraidh an-drasta, still wearing that badge and learning more than ever to keep it simple.


So, I’ve not been out much this week, cos of the virus, but I have listened to a lot of Celtic Connections on Radio 2 and BBC Radio Scotland. And the name Fairport Convention was mentioned – they were playing somewhere in Glasgow.

I have many happy memories of seeing them, Steeleye Span, The JSD Band, Contraband and Silly Wizard many, many years ago………and drinking with several from the last three, including a very svelte Phil Cunningham (student gigs where I was involved in putting the bands on) 🙂

This is Fairport Convention (with Sandy Denny) along with Led Zep’s Robert Plant.

Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything (G B Shaw)

January 19, 2017

And so dear listener, it was on 1st April 1979 that I joined the BBC as a researcher in Religious Broadcasting in Queen Margaret Drive. That same day a new TV producer called Les (from local radio in England) also started.

That lunchtime, the head of the department, his assistant, Les and me went to the Storm Queen in Dumbarton Road for lunch – alcohol with some food on the side – and this was my introduction to much of how broadcast journalism worked. In those days. 🙂

It was a time of cocktail cabinets and lock-ins in the BBC club (which ostensibly closed at 2.30) and wine when there were things to celebrate like the end of that day’s programme. Or five o’clock on a Friday when a trolley came down to the newsroom to celebrate the start of the weekend with free booze. 😀 It doesn’t happen now.

And when I worked in Embra with Religious Broadcasting, Radio, not only was Friday celebrated in Henderson’s for lunch but a well know Embra wine seller/cellar in George Street had a couple of bottles of white chilling for us for the afternoon and this with a Saturday and early Sunday ahead of us. Happy daze. 🙂

(All to a certain extent like my introduction to student life at Glasgow University and my progress in the extra-curricular life, where alcohol and the Beer Bar played a major part in acceptance and it was how I met the rrm and Dennis and Big Jock……the need and search for acceptance)

But it ain’t like that now. The demands of news 24/7 and the open plan offices at Pacific Quay have put an end to that. ):

This all came to mind as I watched BBC’s The Paper Thistle – a eulogy to/a celebration of the 200 years of the Scotsman and the easy acceptance of booze as part of the accepted behaviour, and its acceptable influence, in the wonderful world of journalism.

But, as in all aspects of people’s dependency on drugs such as alcohol and coffee (ask the Queen for her definition of mind-changing drugs), behaviours can change when there is a reason for change. 😀

I enjoyed my time with Religious Broadcasting. I did so much and learned so much. I worked in both TV and radio. I co-presented (kinda) a TV series and presented church services on radio; I didn’t enjoy TV presentation and the then Head of Radio, Scotland, didn’t like my voice. But I survived and stayed with the Beeb for many years and in many guises.

It’s funny tho’. On the same night as the documentary was on I continued tidying up the back bedroom that I use as an office. I shredded millions of stuff associated with the SVQ (honest) and thought I’d continue with the ‘academic papers’ I have – a few of which were accumulated through Inter Library Loans which the Cistercian monks invented but which in some libraries are now called something different. Once I’d been shown (slowly) how to find things on the ‘net and print them off, there was no stopping me. Anyway, I picked up the first clump of papers which turned out to be a Powerpoint presentation on being Drunk and Incapable by Ken Barrie (Skippy can we re-write that bit?)

And of course I sat down and read it and thought I can’t throw that away…….will the book idea ever leave me? (Excuse me while I look up Griesbach et al 2009)

But I was also reminded of a time early in my BBC career when libraries and journalism coincided. I was working for BBC’s Nationwide (of glorious memory) but it was during the Falklands War and unless I was called down to the War Desk in London, things (in Glasgow) were quiet.

I was approached by the producer of a Saturday programme – Jimmy Mack’s Old Gold – who wanted a feature called In This Week Ten Years Ago, Twenty Years Ago and so on. It involved me going down to the Mitchell Library (no USB sticks were harmed) every few weeks and going through the massive volumes of old Daily Records and Daily Expresses to look for the quirky – the stories that made you go Wow! 🙂

I could have done it in a couple of hours but there was a strange attraction in reading these old newspapers  or the high-tech world of the micro-fiche and following through a story – linking things before hyperlinks existed. Libraries can have that effect. How much material exists precariously on top of that bookcase that I didn’t need for my MSc but I got printed off anyway?

Gosh, 734 words without any effort…..I have 250 left.

And finally, a big well done to my friend uni-Sharon who managed to find the exact spot where we were meeting and on time.  Speaking as someone who had dreadful trouble finding a bodyshop in Bishopbriggs to get some work done on my new car, that was seriously good.

Cya, still wearing that badge and there is a knack to keeping it simple which I sometimes forget.

Johnt850, happily keeping it random.

So why do some people need the editing service I provide as secondary income for me?

Well I was approached by someone who asked if I could read 86,970 words in three weeks. ‘No’, I explained. ‘Not enough time.’ And I quoted Glasgow University’s Peer Proof-Reading Guidelines which suggest allowing ten days for essays of 20,000 words – rough guideline.

Back came the reply;

‘Sorry. I meant 8,697 words.’

Yes. You need a proof-reader and yes, I can.

I haven’t done anything about going to see Celtic Connections yet, for all sorts of reasons but this is Emma Pollock from this year’s Roaming Roots Revue at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

Not big skies, J, but dark skies;

‘All there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable which makes you see something you weren’t noticing which makes you see something that isn’t even visible.’ (Norman Maclean)

January 13, 2017

And so dear listener, the new year moves on and some decisions have been made. I plan, for example, to continue to keep it simple – but is that a decision? The move to day-time working continues and a wee bit more of what I’ll miss about working nights will get highlighted later….and I need your help in the matter of holidays. Please.

Y’see, whilst I enjoyed my couple of days in Lisbon a couple of years ago for the novelty if nothing else, there did come a cup of single person coffee in a café overlooking the river when I thought, ‘Okay, maybe Tinderbox in Byres Road or Prince’s Square doesn’t have the same view but it’s one helluva lot easier to get to…’ or similar. 🙂

I don’t think I’m much of a lone traveller anyway and I did get out of the holiday habit some time ago. It’s a bit of a freelance thing where you worry about missing out on work but I always found meeting new people – journalistically or otherwise – gives me a real lift anyway. (That’s actually meeting people and not looking at a menu of sixteen suggested matches where I still feel guilty if I look at a profile and not then send a message)

So I woke up one morning dead early and thought I’m just going to go and find somewhere in the UK where I can go and just say ‘some weather, eh?’ and they’ll know what I’m talking about. 🙂

I mentioned this at a board meeting with e later that day (Tinderbox in Byres Road since you ask) and her suggestion made a lot of sense; rather than a posh country house hotel with large swimming pool which I wouldn’t use or a remote island where the only attraction is the local distillery and its product, ‘why don’t you consider an activity/residential holiday?’

And this is where you, the listener, comes in. I am looking for suggestions. 😉

Bear in mind that I don’t swim (never really learned to) and I don’t cycle (somewhere during Cold Turkey and the nine/ten day stay in hospital, I lost a large part of my balance and whilst I was able to overcome certain fears in absailing and zipwiring, I think there would still be an unsteadiness in activities like cycling)

But other than that I am pretty liberal in my thoughts. I have started a list but only the beginnings of one. Buddhist retreat? Maybe. Learn to paint with watercolours? Perhaps. Being taken in by a complete stranger? Interesting. And you don’t have to come with me but it is a blank sheet of paper on the computer screen………..

And on the question of holidays, I seem to have to take a lot of time off in lieu (TOIL) or actual Annual Leave before the end of March, so I am available for so many things –  including overtime…… diary is possibly the most flexible it’s been for some time. I’m jt850/iaint850, try me. And I’ll possibly keep you posted on suggestions. 🙂

And so to the night shifts. I have one more rota’d shift and then I become established part-time days, which mean working two-three shifts of varying durations (6, 7 or 8 hours) between seven in the morning and ten at night and with a totally different set of responsibilities.

And I mentioned last week problems associated with agency, irregular part-time hours and zero hours contracts and their effect on people’s lives. It’s not just that I can’t get to the football cos I’m working; it’s cos I was working the night before and the sleazebag capitalists who run the world have brought forward the kick-off time of Thistle’s home game to 12.15 and I get to my bed at 8.30 in the morning and sleep though my eleven o’clock alarm and wake up at 11.30 and it’s just too late to get to the game…….Quality of life?

Or a single parent who doesn’t know if she’ll get enough hours to pay for Christmas presents for her children. 😦

But more of that another time.

Will I miss anything about working nights?

Y’mean like watching people pour out of the various pubs and clubs in the area at three in the morning and gaze  in wonderment at how the pre-booked private hire taxis somehow manage to find their fares even though they’re miles away from the Southside or Kirkintilloch or Paisley?

Or taking full bin bags round to the big bins in the alleyway around the corner at about five in the morning and having to apologise to a courting couple for interrupting them?

Or the night early one Monday morning when there was a feeling of pure evil in that part of Glasgow city centre (can evil be pure?) when bottles were broken on deserted streets, when the taxi drivers stayed in their cabs rather than coming out to chat and I felt the need to team up with a worker from a project round the corner to visit those aforementioned bins?

It was a night when Stephen King’s fog visited Glasgow and was scared off.

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple into 2017 🙂

Iaint850, who missed his first Gaelic lesson of the year cos of work commitments (or overtime as it’s known)

And I’m close to using up my word count so I’ll just introduce the latest in the series of acts I’d not heard of before until someone introduced me to them

This is Be Charlotte and I’ll let her explain herself.

‘If I do not tell you that I am a person in long-term recovery, you have no idea. If you have no idea, then you are missing out on an opportunity to receive the hope that recovery happens.’ (Addaction)

January 5, 2017

And so dear listener, I have started 2017 later than most and genuinely did not know what day of the week it was a few days ago and whilst this may have been the case for many Hogmanay revellers, for me it was slightly different. Let me explain.

Last Saturday (Hogmanay) I signed in for a twelve hour shift on 31/12/2016. At five to seven the next morning, I’m still signing things with the date 31/12/2016. The next shift? Well, they’re well ahead of me and my co-worker. They can use the date 01/01/2017. Already I’m eight hours and one year behind the rest of the world!

And I have two more twelve hour shifts, with some sleep between, and, suddenly, it’s Wednesday…I think. 😦

And even if I do go out for fresh air, then it feels like most of the rest of the world is on holiday. Oh, hang on; they were. Now, this is not a complaint; this is an observation. And, yes, I have chosen to do this job and I enjoy it and at no time do I get annoyed at teachers on social media who post about their drunken exploits during the holidays and then complain about going back to work after two weeks off but some other people I know who also had a couple of weeks off really deserved it. No. No names. No reason. 😉

I did okay with holidays in the run up to Christmas and, indeed, presents. 😀

Indeed, (obviously today’s word) as a consequence, I have decided to start collecting curtain tassles. And why not? (And I said that in that really butch voice I am so uncomfortable with) 😉

But there’s a few things worth mentioning here.

For example, there’s been lots of studies over the years about the effect that long-term night-shift can have on people’s lives (I typed ‘loves’ there. I should maybe have left it) but little has been said about the effects of agency working and irregular part-time work and the effects they can have other than highlighting the financial aspects – there are other issues.

And at this point I would like to make the point that some organisations out there  are very good when dealing with irregular workers and the organisation I work for is one of them. In my days as a relief worker when I was offered a shift and I accepted it was for the full shift and guaranteed unless there was significant change in circumstances. Training was available, the wages were good and things like holiday pay happened.

But it’s in things like the planning of your life. That constant looking at your phone just in case that text is actually offering you a shift and you don’t want to miss it. 😦

You don’t need a diary (you’re scared to put anything in it anyway) because every date is in your brain anyway and you know when you are unavailable for cups of coffee. The flexibility that my current and future rotas offer me is good but I find it strange that I can take holidays or go sick and still get paid for it – but that’s the freelance in me.

I have booked a long weekend in March and I really should be planning to go away (any suggestions? Any volunteers?) but hang on; that’s a busy time for editing and I don’t want to let anyone down…..

(I must do a good job for people as one man this week paid me 50% more than I asked for but that doesn’t happen often).

But times and timing have always been important to me. I don’t often talk about the weeks before Cold Turkey but I knew something was up when I turned up on the wrong day for a doctor’s appointment….(that and the shaking and sweating until I got a whisky inside me)…..I don’t do that. I used to be the producer of live radio programmes which relied on people getting into studios all over the world at an agreed time.

And finally how long do chocolate bees last before they come to the end of their useful lives and need putting down?

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

Iaint850, as cool as, man, as cool as…….

So a wee bit, if I may, about the quote at the top.

I was delighted during the week to read that Kevin Kennedy (Curly in Coronation Street) had not had an alcoholic drink for eighteen years and that Clare, his wife, was doing really well as well. Kevin uses AA as a means ‘to stay safe’ and is often asked for help (I would say ‘occasionally’ where I’m concerned) and runs a charity called Kennedy Street offering help. However, I get the impression that what has made all the difference to him and his wife is this;

‘His daughters Katie-May, 12, and Grace, nine, by his wife Clare – who he reconciled with after getting sober – have never seen him touch a drop of alcohol.’

Other people may find other reasons. For me it’s having a clear brain all the time – not that I use it all the time, but at least it’s there.

I suspect that Kevin and I would disagree over whether alcohol dependency is a behaviour or a disease but we both share the pressures of boredom or nothing on the TV (I go for a walk which I will be doing more of as I attempt to lose girth) and we both have to be in the right mood before we go into a pub (but it didn’t help the other night when my companions got nice mixer glasses for their vodka and cokes or irn-bru and I got a massive tumbler of orange juice. That was soooo off-putting)

He and I are both very lucky with many really good friends but I’m better looking. 🙂

This is a very difficult song to sing (it’s the breathing) and this is an amazing version by Caravan Palace who played it on Jools Holland. It’s Black Betty. It’s brilliant.