Archive for July, 2017

Well, you can say what you want But it won’t change my mind (Texas)

July 27, 2017

And so dear listener, the end is nigh. I have seen my (almost) former job advertised and it produces a strange feeling. That has never happened to me before and I hadn’t really thought about that aspect of it all. It’s final. It’s happening.

They will have no problem in replacing me. After all, I am just a part-time worker. I am signed off sick just now so my shifts will be covered by established staff and if not them, then from the relief bank, and failing them, an agency worker (mmmmm agency work?) – and I’m willing to give you even odds as to who gets my job.

It would have been nice to have had a few more days to tell colleagues in other projects that this was happening, rather than them contacting me to see if I was okay. I am – other than the ‘stress and anxiety’ it says on my sickline. 😦

It’s funny but I’m not well used to the world of jobsearch. I talk of being employed by the BBC for about twenty-five years but I wasn’t. I was employed by a number of programmes and departments within the BBC in a variety of different ways and roles and only once did I apply for a proper job in the BBC and I never got it – the rest of the time I got a phone call to see if I was available for two months or so but for only two years was I actual staff. It was from there that I left to join a PR consultancy – but I didn’t apply for the PR jobs. I was approached/head hunted/tapped to leave by two PR consultancies – the only time I ever resigned from the BBC.

One tapping took place at a southside cricket club in the southside of Glasgow and the other (for a different company) took place with an ex-Garden Festival PR who was setting up on his own (post-Festival) but still had access to Garden Festival expense accounts and access to the Buttery and (I’m glad to say) taxis.

When I left the BBC for the last time, I was being employed on a casual weekly basis and one day, I was approached in the newsroom by a high heid yin person who said, ‘not only are you not established to that job, there is no job for you to be established to.’ 😦

At which point I picked up my jacket, made no excuses and left – and told the College where I was part-timing at the time that I was available for more shifts. I later left the College to concentrate on (successful) cancer treatment and I think they just gave out my shifts to other people as well and then sat down later and planned the next academic year. 🙂

I’m just not used to seeing my job advertised and the finality of it all felt weird.

But no, I genuinely have nothing lined up and once I’m signed back on (as it were) I will start knocking on doors.

I need another line. Of income. Casual, part-time or whatever. I think my CV is good and available – suitably redacted – on request. The stamps have been bought.

The editing will needs to be increased and there needs to be something else but I am not washed up and think I am still worthy of my hire. 😉

And voluntary work will be considered – altho’ it can be demanding too. I have seen people who volunteer to help the homeless and it is a thankless task. But I do need to make sure I get out of the house but getting messages at 8 o’clock at night leading to cups of coffee down Byres Road at 9 is good. It’ll be strange having the weekends back and I have a working season ticket for Firhill which makes a big difference. 🙂

Mind you, I do have an idea re voluntary stuff, which sounds quite exciting. I’ll keep you all posted.

And finally, all this does give me a chance to write the book I keep going on about and I’ve started. The other day, I wrote the word ‘Introduction’ in a range of fonts and font sizes. Don’t laugh. It’s a start.

tioraidh, still wearing that badge and really keen to show simple it can still be kept 🙂

Iaint850. And yes I did. 😉

So my mum was a nice wee wummin from Springburn who married a chartered accountant from Peterhead and moved up to Peterhead with him and I think it took her a wee while to work out why she’d done it. She had two children. I was the second one.

I think I was a bit of a disappointment to her at secondary school. I won’t list my achievements but they weren’t as academic as she would have liked and I’m not too sure what she would have made of my recent years but she’d have liked my friends – especially the female ones. I don’t know if she’d have understood the concept of the Friendzone and, tbh, I’m not too sure if my male friends do either 😉

But in later years my mum and I got only really well. 🙂

However, at no time, did my mum arrange for three supermodels to be sitting at the ‘top of our stairs’ when I got home from school and I think none of the less of her for it.

What a stupid thing to say or was it point scoring against his dad? And how is Princess Katie going to compete with that for George when he’s twelve? Alton Towers is out. Don’t want to be compared with William’s mum after all.

Sorry. Just thought it needed said.

So when you need an inspirational piece of music cos you’ve no idea what the future holds, to whom do you turn? Who else but Walk the Moon (not that track but another one)

When you can’t control what is happening around you, challenge yourself to control the way in which you respond (Snoopy)

July 20, 2017

And so, dear listener, this may be a shorter blog than usual. But I never really know until I reach the end how long it’s going to be. And I have reached the end. Of my career with Blue Triangle Housing Association – the homeless charity where I’ve worked for the last four and a half years. My letter of resignation was ‘handed in’ last Saturday with copies going by post and by e-mail so I’m in the process of working my notice.

There’s no big deal or big issue nor am I going to end up selling it. I’ve just not felt the same about some things since I was off work with anxiety and depression for a while last year. I think it’s been obvious, and working with the homeless requires a lot of strength and enthusiasm and resilience and it’s just not been there recently. But I’ve still done my job and done it pretty well. It was a decision reached literally on Friday morning last week. 🙂

For those of you who don’t know, Blue Triangle offers supported accommodation for homeless people as a kind of halfway house to getting their own tenancies – often through a local housing association. We don’t pick people up off the streets or give them soup and blankets. It’s less glamorous than that. We try and help them to cope with certain issues and help them with the skills needed to look after themselves out there in the big, bad world. Some of the folk we help are refugees.

And on one recent occasion, it was really good to take a refugee to sign all his documentation and then get the keys to his new flat in a high rise. And go and look at it again. That was a good day. And there’s the others.

And, eh, that’s all I want to say at this stage. It’s demanding work and I’m tired. Ten years ago I nearly died from alcohol and it was through the help of Moira, my addiction worker (and soooooo many others) that I learned the skills that helped me to cope with the bad cancer that followed. Now I want some time to myself.

So what am I going to do? 😦

Well, I’ve still three weeks to go and I’m still in the middle of a lot of shifts altho’ it does go quieter in a few days time.

And then it goes scary. 😉

But this is not the time for too much reflection. Or about learning what other people think of me and according to one worker who works with me occasionally – my style of working with the homeless is best described as ‘eccentric’, and it was also nice last weekend to work with an agency worker who knows Moira my former addiction worker. There’s a helluva lot of brilliant people out there in social care helping the homeless and those with addiction issues and so on. We are treated as public sector workers as well when it comes to pay rises. Or pay freezes. 😦

And finally, Doctor Who is a fictional character with two hearts who regenerates from time to time. Can we even be sure that Jodie Whittaker will even play the part as a woman (she is after all from Gallifrey) and, anyway, to those who complain about the lack of role models for boys on TV, can I say just one thing? Sylvester McCoy.

tioraidh, back to wearing that badge and keeping it simple

Iaint850, so much water and so many bridges.

And so, to this week’s Nice Moment of the Month Award.

I had a really nice shift on Tuesday night (thanks Alice) but not nice enough to make me change my mind. I walked back to Queen Street Station and on the way treated myself to chips with dripping vinegar (no time for a tea break on shift) and, tbh, I dress down for work (the guy being sick over me is an image that’s never left me)

I was not looking my best.

And then a good looking woman (aren’t they all?) maybe ages with me, came up to me and said ‘Johnt850?’ (except she didn’t, did she? She used ‘the other name’, didn’t she?) and I said yes and she gave me her maiden name and, yes we had gone out together during my first time at university and before I could say, ‘do you remember the time…….?’ she had introduced me to her husband. 😦

Now she is a lecturer at a university and given this current change in my lifestyle there are good reasons for getting in touch. And, no, she is not on Facebook under her maiden name but a few minutes after I’d got home I’d found her married name but I stopped there. 🙂

Apart from anything, I’d love to say thanks to her for bringing such a brilliant smile to my face the other night. 😀 😀 😀

And I wonder when she wiped the vinegar from her lips? Any post-shift thoughts I may have had disappeared out of the window.

What do you think, dear listener?

Next week. The Orbiston bing – its part in my attempt at the friendzoning world record.

And tonight’s music? A long time ago now, j introduced me to the music of Brandi Carlile (and I introduced her to Alabama 3 – maybe not the fairest of swops) and so it’s a piece of music from Brandi.

The lyrics apply to everyone who’s ever been there for me in even the slightest way. A wee while back I knew that I was depressed when I found myself crying over my keyboard. There’s tears again just now but for totally different reasons.

It’s been said that you can’t discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore

July 13, 2017

Wise words there from Jeff Zycinski who, this week, stood down as Head of Radio, Scotland at BBC Scotland, for a range of reasons including, of course, various projects still to be discussed. Jeff and I did not always see eye to eye but I’d like to say thanks for all the nice things he said about my last ever radio documentary seven years ago on the subject of prostate cancer and the kindness and understanding I received from him, and the rest of BBC Scotland, when my father passed away many years ago. Those words may yet prove inspirational. 😉

And nice talking to you, Jeff, in Queen Street Station the other day. Both our families are doing well. 🙂

Anyway, dear listener, I did return from Oban last Monday afternoon and it was one of those galling moments when the guard tells you that it’s on time and you actually want it to be twenty minutes late as then it will only be five minutes until the train to Summerston which also leaves from Queen Street Upper Level and I might not have to pay a fare cos the guard/conductor person doesn’t always collect fares on the way out given that 99.9% of the people on the train must have come through a barrier anyway but it’s a long way to have to pull a suitcase from Summerston station to my house.

So I took a taxi.

I had a good weekend – with much wandering. 😀 😀

I like harbours and the photos would show that, so having checked in I went exploring and had my first fish and chips of the weekend at a caravan on the North Pier……and visited an ice cream shop called The Pokey Hat and had a cone with two scoops of Toffee Ripple and effectively ruined any chance of making that t-shirt last more than one day.

The Saturday was braw and given that the B&B was at the far end of the Esplanade, after I’d posted some postcards for people who are not on my Facebook (sorry rrm – I didn’t have your address), I kept walking away from Oban to a place called Ganavan Sands and I would like to thank Argyll and Bute and anybody concerned with them for the provision of an excellent public toilet at this particular location. 😉

These things are becoming more and more rare (Irvine Beach had a good one) but there’s also a pretty good one on the North Pier at Oban which looks as if it once took money which is a wee bit like the one at Glasgow Queen Street which is also free at the moment because of the state of the station. The Gallery of Modern Art in the City Centre is also good but I always have a good look in the shop before going downstairs otherwise I feel guilty about using it.

But I digress.

I then walked back to Oban.

I had been talking about going on a wee ferry trip just to get some sea air about me but I happened to walk past a gaily coloured small blackboard advertising a boat trip to and around a seal colony. To an extent I could hear it calling to me. Are seals kelpies, trying to lure me to my death on those rocks? It was a tenner and I felt it was worth the risk. 🙂

And it was a very pleasant, if wet, excursion with a very brief history of the area given out by the skipper for the benefit of those Canadians who seemed to make up the rest of my companions. Not a lot of seals but I held on tightly anyway.

Lunch was in one of the restaurants on the North Pier and was large prawns with a parmesan shavings’ dressing and a very nice scented soap in the Gents’ Loo. 🙂

The rest of the afternoon was spent watching the comings and goings of sailing schooners, Cal Mac ferries, the MV Balmoral and a whole range of other craft. I have the photos to prove it. I then went back to my B&B where I used the en-suite facilities to freshen up before going out for, well what turned out to be scallops and langoustines in a tempura dressing and I didn’t need the chips but another brilliantly dressed salad. I slept.

The next day was pouring and I tried to get up the hill to McCaig’s Folly but the wind forced me back. I tried to walk to the Pulpit Hill but the wind blew me over. I went to find the auction mart where years ago I’d produced a radio programme with Jimmie Macgregor and found it was now a supermarket with an addiction centre just round the corner.

I had a toastie for lunch cos it didn’t seem a good food day but I’d a cone with single scoop of toffee cheesecake and nobody thought it strange. And even the toilets weren’t as fascinating the second time around. But a smashing museum called the War and Peace Museum (and nothing to do with Tolstoy) grabbed my fancy and was brilliant and just along the road was a chocolate shop and altho’ I’m not a big hot chocolate fan I did have one. 🙂

(Y’know, Skippy, people often ask me what inspires the music I play at the end. Hot chocolate, eh? I wonder)

And then things began to drift. I did have roll mop herring as my final dish of the day and, indeed, the weekend.

It was from another outdoor stall where despite the rain, Japanese tourists seemed to be enjoying a massive seafood platter with a massive lobster in the middle.

And finally, no, I don’t know what the salad dressing was that it came with.

Oban – Salad Dressing Capital of the Highlands

And loads and loads of sky – all made up of different sizes

And the music? You’ve guessed it, haven’t you?

(the clue was in the word ‘drift’)

To travel is to live (anon)

July 8, 2017

And so dear listener, as you read this it is possible that I am returning from, or have returned from, a long weekend in Oban. It’s been fun and tiring and my head is clearer and I have slept well. I have come to some decisions, which I will mull over (a little Inner Hebridean joke there) but I never actually made it over to that island. 🙂

What I did do was………well let’s not rush into all my adventures just yet.

Let’s start with a brief encounter in Queen Street Station. It’s one of those moments, when someone you haven’t seen for ten years, walks past you and says, ‘Hi John’ and you say, ‘Hi Kerry’ and neither of you thinks it strange at all – like you meet in that way every day. Yes. A former student. 🙂

And I’m convinced that Agent Pedro, as the Celtic fans now call the new Rangers manager, walked past me on the Esplanade at Oban. He is as entitled to his privacy and thoughts as am I.

And then Kenny the Shed Pimp turned up on Saturday but he and his family had come more or less for the train journey which has magnificent scenery. But then again I like Dumbarton from the train. 🙂

But what is there not to like about a journey that takes in place names such as Loch Awe, the Falls of Cruachan and Ardlui and basically travels up the side of Loch Lomond before cutting across country. And whilst most people were making the same journey as me from Glasgow, for some others who live and work locally, then their daily journey is on the beautiful Connal into Oban bit – almost as beautiful as the section close to the start of the journey between Maryhill and Kelvindale (River Clyde and canal). Not long after the train goes past Summerston and the ASDA. 😀

And there was a strange moment on the train which is symptomatic of something but not sure what. There was a young couple on the train with toddler and baby and they were easily befriended by a slightly older couple (who once upon a time I might have described as ‘elderly’) and they shared biscuits and so on.

And as we got nearer to Oban, the slightly older lady asked if she might take a picture of the toddler. ‘Just for memories. Nothing else’, she reassured the younger mum……….

And finally, the B & B. It’s good and I think worth the money for what I’m paying in the middle of July. One small hiccup and it was mentioned in the exchange of mails, you can only check in between 3 and 7 in the afternoon and whilst that is perfectly understandable, when your train gets in at quarter to two it was a bit of a long wait but other that it is fine. 🙂

And the view from my bedroom (at the back) is trees but the view from the dining room in the morning is brilliant.

Oh, and I have to put in my breakfast order the night before. The last time I had to do that was in the ten days I was in hospital post Cold Turkey.

Cheerie (as they say in Wishie), not wearing either badge as I don’t want to lose them but still keeping it simple

Iaint850, and I’ve now just run out of words. Maybe more next week but I’ve done a lot of walking and spent some time at sea.

So, as many of you know, I am quietly (?) happy in my recoveries but every so often something happens which I’m happy to describe as the latest final sign of complete recovery and it happened within the last few weeks.

I was asked (for a fee) to renew my Driving Licence and I was promised that they would use my Passport photo which is about five years old. After a wee hiccup with the form – it took me a wee while to realise that what was causing the asterixed field to get so annoyed was that I very rarely use my middle name these days – I sent it off online.

And the joy, oh the unbridled (?) joy when I got it back. The previous photo had been taken, I think, at the height of the depths of my bad time. Where a bloated and jaundiced and shorthaired figure had previously looked out at me (and anyone else, officer, who needed to look at it) there is now a much leaner (but a bit to go yet) face looking out.

Indeed the haircut is very similar to my recent one and which I realise is perhaps a statement of intent for the future as, indeed, is this wee trip to Oban. 🙂

You can do a lot of thinking watching the boats coming and going.

This is/these are the Shires,