Archive for September, 2017

I was born in Glasgow, but my family is pretty much from a little town called Paisley, famous for its cotton mills and Paisley pattern (Gerard Butler)

September 28, 2017

And so dear listener, I’m sure that you, like me, failed to notice that Radio 4 was offering £5,000 in a competition to allow the lucky winner the opportunity to make a one-off travel documentary for radio, and my thanks to Jonathan, a former BBC colleague for the info. It was for someone who ‘enjoyed travelling’. The previous winner had been to Tajekistan. 🙂

I was thinking about this as my train passed Possilpark and Parkhouse on the way to Queen Street before I’d the walk down to Central to catch the train to Paisley (if it’s to the uny, it’s by car – if it’s just the town centre, it’s the train)

No. I’m not a big traveller and never really have been. My sis travelled/travels a lot but I have been to some jolly interesting places in my time.

Y’see not only is it the fiftieth anniversary of Radio 1 (which I’ll come back to) but it’s also the fiftieth anniversary of the world’s shortest flight – from Papa Westray to Westray and back (1.7 miles and about five minutes) – and we (study buddie Fi and me) spent most of a Sunday once on the island (either the one or the other) and mega thanks to the other person on the plane who told us that the youth hostel was not locked but to leave a donation for the coffee we drank. I have the certificate to prove it but the two miniatures of Highland Park we were given were swiftly passed on.

And some of the refugees I worked with might have been interested at one time but to be honest, you don’t see much of your journey from Syria to Britain if it is carried out in the back of a lorry with your head down (but they have been given leave to stay in this country for five years).

And my most recent trip was to Oban (on my own) and having walked on Ganavan Beach in the sun and the Esplanade in the rain I came back having decided, more or less, to resign with no job to go to.

(I think that’s living relatively dangerously and I acted with no-one’s advice)

But the two places in the world that have had the greatest influence on me since leaving Peterhead have been Paisley and Easterhouse and I may return to Peterhead and Easterhouse on another occasion. Metaphorically but not in reality. Probably.

No, I was out in Paisley twice this week and it’s a place I know from many years ago as well as currently. A couple of girlfriends (No. Not at the same time) and one of them became my wife (and later my ex-wife) but it was things like the tunnel bus; my now ex-mum-in-law getting me tickets for a Scotland v England game and me getting them from her at a Paisley bingo hall; various bowling clubs; the brilliance that is a fully working Barshaw Park; the Observatory that I visited with half a dozen former heroin users; the University and all that that means for me; and taking part in a Recovery Day at Paisley Town Hall which was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life.

And there’s a lot more. It may not be the stuff of Radio 4 travel documentaries but the place is important to me. 🙂

And so are many of the people I know from there or its environs. 😀 😀 😀

But, finally, I have a major criticism of the University but it’s not just UWS (Paisley) but as more and more are modernising, the open space for me to put up flyers disappears behind opaque plastic. I’ll survive but please tell people about

tioraidh, still wearing that badge and happily keeping it simple

Iaint850, and just cos I’m alive to make mistakes doesn’t excuse the mistakes that I make.

And I’m afraid I’ve run out of word count again so it’ll be next week before I can tell you what being an SVQ assessor involves cos I want to use the last bit of space to tell you a story.

Someone very kindly talked about me turning my life around but I need to be honest; sometimes it feels like I’m in a continual spin. But I owe so much to so many people and I can never underestimate that. Not everyone is so lucky.

So, leaving Queen Street Station the other day to go to Paisley, I saw someone begging, whom I knew – a former service user. Obviously I spent some time talking to him – down on one knee. The guy’s in his mid-thirties and has used various drugs over a period of time but he is really bright and capable of more, so much more than what he’s doing but the resources just aren’t there to help him.

One of the things that I had going for me was, when my addiction worker came to see me after Cold Turkey – and with a colleague – just in case,she saw a good middle class house with books and it was clean and so on. My recovery capital was good but I also know that with Moira there was a belief that everyone had recovery capital of some sort. They do. 🙂

Obviously I told the former service user that I couldn’t give him any money but he reassured me it would be used for food and food alone. Obviously I believed him and obviously I gave him money. I know that the next time I see him he’ll be clean. Obviously.

Anyway a big well done to top music presenter and former BBC colleague, John Collins, who has recently joined Chris Country Radio as the drivetime jock and it’s well deserved. It was John and j, the blog’s top pop picker (and Happy Birthday j) who opened my eyes to what country music has to offer which is why I have a new MP3 player.

John, I don’t know the music policy for drivetime country but you can’t have too much Brandi Carlile

This is her and Dreams and I still have them and always will. Thank you Paisley and everyone else out there.

I’d walk through fire for my best friend…well, not fire. That would be dangerous. But a super humid room…..but not too humid, because, y’know, my hair’ (Word Porn)

September 21, 2017

And so dear listener, I am aware that I have been a bit of a pain in many respects recently, but hopefully I am making amends. It’s funny (?) but I have been asked that question about my ‘alcoholic gap year’ which lasted fourteen months but I am aware that I was putting my job on the line and I was looking really ill and my family and some friends were worried about me but a lot of that was put down to grief. It was actually caused by alcohol as I was drinking rather than keeping up with friends. 😦

So, a massive amount of name-checking friends today. 🙂

For example, the reason for the quote (which the Vampireslayer suggested) is that my hairdresser, Sandra, recently broke her wrist and I do hope she gets better soon. Yes. I am being selfish as there is only one other person in the entire Western world that I can trust with my hair.

So, there’s a wee bit of self-indulgence here.

For example, Jeanette at the BBC, this week, celebrated forty years of being at the Beeb and I was invited over as part of her celebrations but had to pull out because one of my new colleagues wanted to bring forward a meeting and it gave me a chance to meet more people and to find out a wee bit more about my first candidates with whom (j and e) I start work on the second anniversary of Blue Triangle’s Fortieth Anniversary and do you still play the CD? 😀

Yes, a bit convoluted but I was determined.

But back at Jeanette. Everyone will have had their own work memories of her but my own memories include the size of her ankles during her pregnancy but can I also highlight that, several days after Son Brian was born, when we were getting him organised to get him home, I had been given a list of what was needed so the nurse could dress him. I sought advice from Jeanette who spotted that there was no headgear on the list and I knew there was no hat at home and she brought one in the next day. Thanks. These things are important. 🙂

And a big well done to people like Karen and Anne who organised your big day. xx

And a big thanks to the blogmeister who helped sort out some mobile telephonic issues and I have now joined the Twenty-First Century with Twitter but no official announcement because a couple of people have already found me under one name when I thought I had another one.

It’s not the biggest big deal ever. 😉

And my thanks to the mighty Partick Thistle for their brilliant 2 – 2 draw against Rangers which was the first big game I’d attended since the anxiety kicked in and I think a definite sign it has gone. I still worry tho’. I’ll never stop worrying. After all I cause most of it.

And I think it says so much about Partick Thistle games that I spent the bulk of half time talking to Neil, a worker with the homeless in Hull, and smiling at a mail that arrived with perfect timing. 🙂

I didn’t make the League Cup game but that was because of a ticketing problem – not uncommon with me at the moment.

And my thanks to Missie K who, when I told the world that I was in the Mitchell Library to begin my reading for the SVQ Assessor role, messaged me back with the words ‘Ah. Returning to the scene of the crime?’

Which might have pleased Becky, the Miss Marple of North London. 🙂

Y’see I have been telling people about a marvellous programme I caught by chance on Sunday, 17th September at 8.30 pm on BBC 4 (BBCiPlayer info) which was called the Secret Voices of Hollywood and was about the singers who sang the songs that the actors and actresses couldn’t sing because their voices weren’t good enough. 😦

Millions of stories and the one I keep quoting involves Mark Lester (who played Oliver in Oliver) being made to wear a garland of onions to make him cry whilst the director’s daughter sang his part.

Becky, being a super sleuth, had seen it before and shared my enthusiasm. 🙂

And finally I took a train into the Mitchell (well not all the way – libraries haven’t changed that much) and I sat down next to a young lady with a large sports bag. A couple of times the bag poked into me and she apologised and then there was a wee noise so she opened the bag and a pussy cat’s head emerged followed by the cat’s body. And then it was my stop.

The book, The Girl and the Cat on the Train will be available from all good bookshops once I’ve written it.

Tioraidh, still looking for the missing bit of that badge but more than ever keeping it simple,

Iaint850 – even the cheeky wee grin is back

Aaaaargh. Again I’ve run out of words and I’ve not enough room to tell you what an SVQ Assessor does.

But a quick word about Monica Lennon MSP who I quoted last week when she was talking about the stigma attached to being an ‘alcoholic’. She also mentioned the fact that she went to AA meetings with her dad who would have described himself as an alcoholic at such a meeting.

A lot of meetings are open to the public altho’ you have to have a reason to attend. You can’t just go along for a nosey. But if you have, say, a member of your family who attends these meetings, then you have a good reason for going along. It’s a chance to see what goes on. As one of the interviewees in my Master’s said, ‘folk who go to meetings are anonymous – not invisible’.

Anyway, excuse me while I sing along to one of my favest pieces of music from a kinda musical and I CAN do the actions……but I have no idea what they’re singing about……it’s all innuendo, anyway.

‘I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.’ (Jane Austen – the full quote)

September 14, 2017

And so dear listener, some very wise words there from the very wise Jane Austen. And I wonder what she’d have made of my latest venture – all in the name of completing my latest work search. 😉

I’m back at college – well I’m not but I was in one last Wednesday and what a jolly fun experience it turned out to be. And then it might help if I told you how close I am to fulfilling my latest lifelong ambition – becoming an SVQ Assessor. 🙂 🙂

Let’s go colleging which is not an academic form of cottaging but it’s a long time since I’ve been back to that car park in Strathclyde Park but totally unconnected is the fact that three years ago, as a sixtieth birthday present, the good Dr W and I went abseiling. I wonder…..No. I don’t. We move swiftly on.

So I’d to meet a man at the relatively new City of Glasgow College to enrol for a Personal Development Award in Assessing. He told me that the main entrance was up the side of the building – two floors up.

I was early. It’s a train time thing. There’s a Costa Coffee on the ground floor and I went in. And there they sat, glistening at me, begging me to have them…….yes, I gave into temptation. I had a roll and links. Meat links. Sausages. And they were nice. It’s not an ethical or medical thing. I do not feel ashamed. I felt better for it. I left the café and made my way up to the main entrance and reception.

What a bloody climb that was. Next time (?) it’s the internal staircase. Anyway, I made it and I’d to wait a few minutes and I just kept bursting out laughing. Forty-five years ago I matriculated in Latin at Glasgow University and now here I was at an FE College preparing for the next stage in my life. I couldn’t stop smiling. 🙂 🙂 🙂

The rest of the business was carried out dead quick and both the invoice and my latest student card (think student discount again) are in the post. Altho’ he did suggest that I get a new USB stick special for the SVQ Assessment stuff. After my nose stopped bleeding and my face returned from its ghostly white to its normal hot flush red, I mumbled agreement.

Not sure when I’ll start earning and I could do without the debt I owe a previous employer but it was my decision to leave and my head is soooooo much happier. I have a focus and I was badly needing one.

So I had said to a few people that I’d wait until the end of September before considering agency or relief work.

No. I’m going to concentrate on this. Once my printer concedes defeat and prints off the PDF that tells me what I’m supposed to be doing.

The main memory that came back on Wednesday was that day, six and a half year ago, when I wandered out to UWS (Paisley) to meet a man called Ken Barrie who, after about twenty minutes, told me I was on the Post Grad course starting a few months later, subject to satisfactory references. 🙂

I went across a foyer thing to the Library Foyer which no longer exists (it’s an Information Hub) and I sat on a comfy seat for ‘I don’t know how long’ with a massive smile on my face. 🙂 🙂 🙂

And just thought…..Wow.

And later, on Wednesday, I was at Glasgow University. I’d to see the blogmeister about a couple of things and it was Freshers’ Week and you could see the look of indecision before they approached me. And I did get goodies. I’m not sure if I’ve ever eaten a piece of Domino’s pizza before….but I have now. Basic Margarita (sp?) since you ask.

And then the next day it happened again…….being recognised by someone from many years ago; only this time I wasn’t holding a bag of chips. I was sitting at one of the gates at the Botanic Gardens where the dinosaurs had roamed.

And again a good looking woman (ages with me) walked up to me and said, ‘jt850?’ but this time I knew her name and we chatted. Not a former girlfriend this time but someone who, with her male partner, had been good friends with me and my then wife. Pleasantries were pursued and she moved on.

Incidentally, when did the unicorn become Scotland’s national animal?

And I do know how popular our long running series looking at library assistants through the ages has been and Skippy has found a brilliant PhD thesis called A History of Women Workers in English Libraries 1871 – 1974. It’s a fascinating read but I’d be grateful if you could resist tearing into it until you’ve finished the blog. Thank you

The URL is (and you have to copy and paste this week) file:///C:/Users/John%20Thomson/Downloads/DX210274.pdf

tioraidh, and still wearing that badge altho’ the holding pin fell off in a Byres Road coffee shop and still keeping it friendly, simple and focussed.

Iaint850, assessor candidate and proud of it

And I’m sorry but the Word-Count-Ometerhas just sounded and I’ll need to wait until next week before I tell you what the job involves. And I did want to highlight MSP Monica Lennon’s comments about the stigma attached ti ‘coming out’ as ‘an alcoholic’. I did a wee bit of writing about that during the Master’s but I did notice her saying something about people being put off going to AA by having to say ‘My name is John and I am an alcoholic’ when they feel they’re not that bad. Sorry, Monica, but that’s more or less the only criterion for membership. Maybe that’s what the PhD should have been about.

And I think there are some people out there who are still perplexed about the meaning of Six Degrees of Separation. I think this explains everything.

I think it’s well known that it was j, still the blog’s favest librarian, who turned me on. To country music (and seeing Kris Kristofferson with her was really special) and this got me listening to a former BBC colleague John Collins on his country music show on Clyde 2 on Sunday evenings. And it was John who pointed me in the direction of Chris Country Music but jc no longer does his Sunday night show but he does the breakfast show on both Saturday and Sunday on Clyde 2 and related stations. But John turned up on Chris Country on Monday which is where I heard this.

Thanks for listening y’all.

To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all of the mysteries of life (W. Somerset Maughan)

September 7, 2017

And so dear listener, welcome to a much more relaxed and revitalised, but unfortunately no leaner, jt850. Aye, at the time of the USB stick incident and the other stuff, I was telling folk ‘I was anxious but not depressed’. I now realise that I was becoming depressed and this affected how I was dealing with folk in a way I’d never felt before.

Getting my head round all that has made a big difference as have some shopping, a visit to a college* next week and getting thrown out of a well-known Charing Cross sandwich deli last week. 😀

*some students go back to where they studied and become teachers; with me, it has to be the reverse.

With regard to the latter, when you think about it, 3.30 in the afternoon is a reasonable time to be washing floors and piling up chairs. 🙂

With regard to the middle, I am making good progress on the worksearch front and, whilst it might be some time before money arrives, I feel happy about what I’m doing. 😀

With regard to the one at the front, I do shop in Love Music on my own, but the experience of Waterstone’s is always much better with a companion – be it pre-Christmas or early September. Some ideas for the World’s smallest book club. 😀

And it was nice to spend some time in the company of jc – another blogger – earlier this week. It can be a solitary pastime……..and then someone asks you about something you wrote a couple of weeks ago and the smile becomes sooooooo big. 😀 😀

And I should also mention that my grandson was baptised this weekend and my grand-daughter became three. It is well known that their privacy is well respected by me in public ventures and social media but to the small number of you who receive the occasional pic, I have got a wee bit confused in my relaxed state and am not sure to whom I’ve sent pics or, indeed, in what format. So, if you’re on the ‘mailing list’and you’ve not heard, please give me a shout.

And cutting back on general expenditure does not mean cutting back on varied eating. For example, I can have toasted cheese one night with red sauce and toasted cheese one night with brown sauce – maybe even throw a chopped spring onion or some chives over it for variety.

But in all seriousness, I’m considering re-introducing some meat into my diet. There are limits to the number of prawn stir-fries one man can have and that was the problem the last time – a lack of variety. We’ll see. I’m rushing into nothing.

And I think I did my skills down a bit last week. I’m a pretty good cook (anything from scallops to freestyle poached eggs and a fish bake thing (my ex-wife once asked me for the recipe so I can’t be that bad)) – and I seem to be a reasonably good editor of academic work at all levels – a niche market which many still believe doesn’t exist.

It should be gentle and straightforward and usually is but I mentioned to a couple of folk last weekend that I had an ethical dilemna – a supervisor had suggested doing something major differently from what Olga and I had been doing since we’d been working together – with two days to go to submission.

Now my advice (when asked) in those circumstances (and I never tell people what to do) is usually ‘just accept what the supervisor says’ (and that’s what I said) but I also explained why the supervisor was wrong. I got a mail from Olga on Monday. She and I had worked together for two years and she trusted me. She had accepted all my suggestions and it looked so much better.

My fingers are crossed.

And please tell the world that TheWordProcess exists. There is more money going out than coming in just now and an undergrad essay or a wee PhD could help provide a different flavour of cheese.

And finally, my evening class of choice for this year is An Introduction to Psychology. The Gaelic last year was fun and Joy was a brilliant teacher but my ear never really picked it up. I’ve got a lot of Gaelic stuff sitting there so there’s no reason why I couldn’t do Gaelic One myself – once I know what I’ve let myself in for.

tioraidh, still wearing the badge and keeping it simple – but in a more relaxed manner.

Iaint850, pretty happy and enjoying the challenges

And now for the latest in our long running series; Interesting Stories About Library Assistants through The Ages.

There I hope you enjoyed that. No doubt there will be more next week. Skippy is my main archivist in this matter and she does an excellent job.

And tonight’s Musical Motif is supplied by the late, the great Leon Russell who I was fortunate enough to see at the Glasgow Jazz Festival a few years ago. It was playing Joe Cocker last week that suggested it and it makes me regret I didn’t stick in at those piano lessons all those years ago. I wanted guitar lessons. I was not allowed.

Here we go!!!!!!!

And The Light At The End Of The Tunnel is The Light Of An Oncoming Train (Half Man, Half Biscuit) I hope not (Johnt850)

September 1, 2017

And so dear listener, I was talking to this good looking woman at a funeral (as I do) and I was gently introducing myself and she said, ‘I know’. So I tried another opening gambit, and she said, ‘I know’……..and I said, ‘But how?’and she replied, ‘I read it in your blog.’

And I noticed a facebook friend had highlighted that she recently stayed in a hotel in Peterhead. And I mentioned on facebook that that was just along the road from where I was brought up. In Peterhead, and she said, ‘I know. I read it in your blog.’

I shall now publish my N.I. number and my bank details. 😀

But good progress on the worksearch front and I may be able to make an announcement soon. What I do know is that I thoroughly enjoyed my four and a half years working in social care, working with homeless people in Glasgow, which followed on from my drink’n’drugs studies at UWS (Paisley).

Some recent conversations with others in that field were good fun, altho’ the events discussed maybe weren’t at the time. I’ll never forget the guy with the pineapple and I’m not sure the police people present at the time ever will. 🙂

And there were days the alarm buzzer was necessary.

But I now know what drove my decision to leave BTHA – or at least in terms I can understand. Longer term listeners will be aware that it’s been some time since I mentioned the two line managers at the Glasgow Metropolitan College who, when I returned to teaching after my Cold Turkey, kept saying nasty things about ‘alcoholics’ and how they were bound to lapse and couldn’t be trusted, but always in the third person and when no-one else was around. But, unknowingly, they encouraged me to prove them wrong. And I did, and in some respects I’d just like them to see me now and how good I look – if fat. I turned it to my advantage. 🙂

And that’s where I was thrown recently with the Blue Triangle affair. There were several issues – some small, some large – where I felt my honesty and integrity were being called into question by Head Office people who I would not want at my side if they were on a shift with me and something kicked off……..I didn’t think much of them but yet, I let them get to me. I’m annoyed at myself and I think it’s shown recently.

I am as good as anyone.

Mind you, I’m not sure what I’ve achieved in life. I know nothing about cars, I can’t play a musical instrument, it’s years since I hill-walked and I’m certainly not rich altho’ I have helped talk people out of suicide a couple of times, but it’s not really the kind of thing you can put down on an online dating site profile (for example – altho’ it’s ages since I looked) but I have a brilliant, if strangely extended, family and some amazing friends. 😀 😀 😀

And if things like the blog and my big mouth mean people feel they can ask me questions about mental health, substance issues and cancer, for example, without feeling bothered, then maybe I have done something. Good job I’m getting cremated* cos you’d never get that on my tombstone.

*once I’m dead. Please. Not before.

And, so, once again my apologies in a couple of directions but someone helped me to draw this parallel between what happened at the college and what happened recently and I owe her big time and to those people to whom I’ve been a pain recently, I owe you big time as well……….the positive vibe has returned. 🙂

Iaint850 – the laugh is back. Thanks to Shirley, Debbie and Caroline

Next week we will return to normal with tales of a meal in a Chinese buffet in Motherwell; the world record that is owned by the Jimmy Mack programme and we knew nothing about it; and why myself and two friends overstayed our welcome one lunchtime in the seated area of a well known sandwich takeaway in the Charing Cross area of Glasgow.

But before I finish, it’s time for this week’s Red Face of the Month competition, the winner of which, as ever, is me. (I blame all the oestrogen that was pumped into me as the first part of the cancer treatment. The hot flushes have been with me ever since – particularly when I drink coffee)

Y’see what happened was……

My car had to go in for a service. No cost cos it’s a new car and I had extended the service warranty. So, time to collect it and I got a Network taxi to take me to collect. The car arrived and I got into it. And just as I was about to give the driver directions, my phone rang and I answered it but first, I said to the driver,

‘Yes. The Arnold Clark garage in Milngavie. Aye. Next to the Homebase. Aye, Arnold Clark, well he’s dead now. Well anyway, anyway, Arnold Clark and Marks and Spencer, they’re taking over the world, aren’t they?’

And the phone line was dead

And then I got to the garage and did the business of not paying for it cos there was nothing to pay. And then Norrie, the service manager took me out to the car and said,

‘By the way, Mr Thomson, it was me on the phone to you – just in case you were wondering. I knew it was you cos I recognised your voice Just as you were giving the driver directions and then there was something else……something about Marks and Spencer taking over the World.’

Dear listener, one of the reddest ever and, to whom it may concern, I can muck up phone calls as well as e-mails.

Joe Cocker and some of the words speak for themselves.