Archive for October, 2017

It’s like you have to be strong for everyone else but they forget to ask if you’re okay.

October 26, 2017

And so dear listener, this week I experienced a feeling I have not experienced for some time but is it right that a man, my age, should experience that feeling. Sorry? Oh, first day nerves, that’s what I mean. I have now seriously started as an SVQ assessor-candidate who is to get assessed as an assessor assessing candidates.

Some people, such as j, seemed to pick it up straightaway but others, like me, have to keep everything in a separate pile in my head and it’s not easy, having piles in your head. 😦

And I don’t think I ever told you, dear listener, what an SVQ assessor does.

NVQ/SVQ assessors help and assess people who are working towards National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) or Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs). In doing so, they make sure that the candidates meet the required standards.

And, yes, that is Copy and Paste. Did you notice? Any questions?

Yes. I am looking forward to yet another new career. In order to get it all on my CV I am now using font size 8.5 and A3 paper. And have I finished yet? What would be nice would be to get my income back up to pre-resignation levels but with the same free time I had before.

And there are some signs that the editing might be kicking off again and my thanks go to the marketing team for their sparkling efforts. 😀

Ah, that lovely word ‘team’. I have met people who say things like ‘there’s no ‘I’ in team.’

To which I reply, ‘Yeah, but there’s a ‘me’.’

But then I’m the kinda guy who criticises the well-known Pavlov’s dogs experiment cos no-one asked the dogs – and to me that’s a fundamental flaw. 🙂

Ah, yes…..team. Last week a couple of photos appeared on Facebook showing the BBC Radio Scotland team who covered the Commonwealth Games of 1986. One photo showed us on our way to the closing night disco (yes, disco – and it may even have been Tom Ferrie who was the deejay) and the other was in the bunker we called home for the fortnight. 🙂

I was a producer and, in addition to everything else, was responsible for putting together a two minute sports news after the main news. With me? And I had a presenter to read it.

Except one night, at about half past ten, I was sitting with a pint in the BBC Club next to the bunker and became aware I had no reporter. I had to do it. And so dear listener, I had the amazing privilege of saying, ‘And now the moment all Scotland has been waiting for….’

And played a piece of tape that was Liz Lynch winning her Gold medal before reading out some results from the shooting at Barry Budden in Angus and then back to the hotel for my second pint of the night. This one well deserved.:D

And as I write this, speaking of matters athletic, I’ve still not heard back about my x-rays of last week. But it has not stopped me walking. One jolly interesting and recent walk was with e and Holly the Dog though the Botanic Gardens and its environs. We helped reunite a young girl with her dad; cheered on some young athletes; and remenisced (sp?) about our pasts and one shop in particular. Anyone who ever lived West-endish in the seventies and a wee bit beyond will remember Goodies – the first ever twenty-four hour dairy I had ever known; pints of milk and chocolate biscuits after two in the morning; a strange woman who seemed to sit in the same seat 24/7; and a very unhygienic cat who sat in the window, seemingly, also for a full day at a time.

Yes, we have Tesco’s in Maryhill and the Asda in Govan – both of which are also twenty-four hours a day but they lack the magic of Goodies. 🙂

And finally, I did go to see George Monbiot – a man with some very interesting ideas. I would have thought it of interest to anyone claiming to have environmental credentials or looking for original thinking. Maybe those who missed it were too busy slagging each other off on Facebook

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

Iaint850, and surely I’m not the only person who still says Bloody Norah.

And I was talking to a friend recently and she was telling me of her recent regular visit to a Costa Coffee Shop (and other chainstore coffee shops are available) and she spotted someone she hadn’t seen for some time.

‘Is everything okay?’ she asked.

‘I’m cutting back on caffeine.’

‘Well there’s plenty of good de-caff stuff out there these days.’

‘No. It’s not that. I just don’t have the money these days.’

This was in a douce, middle class town not that far from Glasgow. I had travelled there by train and before I got the train back to Glasgow I bought a newspaper. The vendor was smiling and whistling. I asked him why he was so cheery.

‘The Tory Party is falling apart at the seams. We’ve got them on the run.’

The two conversations prove nothing except to add to my sadness that so much political debate takes place online by people just shouting at each other. Politics is about real people – not sitting in front of a laptop shouting at people through your keyboard.

Why not help out at a foodbank?

There’s often a single piece of music that you hear on all the radios stations you listen to as part of your regular listening pattern – in my case Radio 1 and Clyde 1 in the car and often Chris Country at home – but often you tire of it. Not this time.

This is Pink and What About Us. Stick with the video. It gives an extra meaning to the song.

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‘Ankles are nearly always neat and good-looking, but knees are nearly always not.’ (Pres Dwight D Eisenhower who also served as a US General; the current President never served and it shows)

October 19, 2017

And so dear listener, ex-hurricane Ophelia came and went and caused deaths and havoc in Ireland but by the time it got here, it had run out of puff and whilst it still did some damage it was not on the scale it might have been.

I watched it on TV and some memories came back; not of other ex-hurricanes but of my teens in Peterhead before I moved down to Glasgow and never left. 😀

If we leave aside the prison, Peterhead is best known these days as the biggest white fish port in Europe and as a base for North Sea oil and I’m pleased to have played a part in both of those – one as a regular holiday job with Peterhead Harbours as a Clerk to the Collector of Shore Dues and the other as a radio operator from BOC base to rigs and supply vessels with the call sign Barge 701. 🙂

But before Peterhead Harbours were (re-)developed they were a playground of nooks, crannies and places away from parental eyes. What was known as the North Breakwater was brilliant for guys with some cans of lager on a sunny Saturday night listening to David Symonds and John Peel on a large tranny (I’m not even going to bother explaining that) 😀

Winters were bad in Peterhead as its location meant that it was exposed to the North Sea on several sides. So when the weather was really bad and nights were dark we played a game of chicken by seeing who could climb up the steps to the top of the North Harbour sea wall and stay standing when the next wave came over.

Simple, if damp, pleasures. 😉

Once, somebody, not one of us, didn’t actually stay standing when a wave came over and we never played that game again.

Moving silently on.

And I opened a new bottle of Listerine the other day and just took the first slug from the bottle. A memory came back.

And I did make it to my Psychology evening class this week where the tutor was discussing altruism and gave us a brilliant example by explaining how supremely altruistic bees were as they had no hesitation in giving up their lives to save the hives by stinging aggressors knowing they would die by doing that but those of us who had read Laline Paull’s The BEES (either on kindle or as a book) knew that anyway.

Anyway, I was at the doctor’s this week. Went there with my knees. Well it would have been difficult not to. I can walk for miles with e and Holly the Dog and other people but boy, can I feel it going up stairs – especially the semi-spiral ones here at t850towers. So I got an open invite to an X-ray unit, that just needed a letter from my GP, and I got a flu jab whilst I was there. Strange not to jag a vein.

And we both agreed I was over the depression – mainly because I’d found its pretty big cause and was using basic coping mechanisms again to bring back an air of positivity…..kinda Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. And walking.

Positivity’s good at the moment. The SVQ Assessor thing is taking the time it was always going to take but I am a wee bit concerned at the lack of editing. One problem is the lack of open noticeboards. I was in the Students Association Building at GCAL and the cleaners were still there and I got the feeling that the cleaners were defying me to be the first to stick a poster up on the newly painted pillar. Lesson? Go back later in the day. 😉

http://www.thewordprocess.net

And finally, please excuse me while I catch up on some personal stuff.

Jenny H – delighted to help out with the research project at UWS (Paisley)

e – well done to AJ on his medal at the National Mod and looking forward to the pics

Sharon – congrats on the latest edition to the family

Caroline – I think that’s the right decision and still happy to help

J – thanks for the cracking knees stories
and

Alan Archibald (PT manager) there’s nothing to worry about (at this stage)

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

iaint850, beginning to get bored but I still have the price of two coffees. And the odd curry or similar. 😉

So comedian Sean Hughes died during the week. I knew of him from Never Mind the Buzzcocks fame but I became aware from social media how much other people regarded his talents.

I was saddened, therefore, to read the next day that he had died of a liver disease following ‘years of hedonism’. He was 51. I am 63. I was 52 when I stopped drinking but it was not a choice I made; cold turkey made it for me.

But I was also saddened when I read that, at one time, he had been off drink for a couple of years but his sobriety made his friends uncomfortable, and when he started again his friends ‘welcomed him back’. That’s sad. For me, the help of friends was, and still is, the biggest factor in me not needing alcohol.

On one or two occasions I was told, ‘you’ve obviously got it under control. Why not just the one drink?’ Eh, no thanks. I just don’t drink, but not ‘worried’ about a disease that doesn’t exist.

However, I have known several people for whom being sober, and therefore, boring is a concern. I don’t think that can ever be said about me and I enjoy the clear head I now have but I can still be a pain.

But one of the nice things about writing this blog is the occasional responses I get. I know not everyone listens to the music I play at the end altho’ I make it as easy as I can. Maybe people still think I’m going through the techno/trance phase. Therefore, I am happy to play Rihannon Giddens again.

You’re not lost if you know where you’ve been (Alice in Wonderland)

October 12, 2017

And so dear listener, last week I attended an exhibition I would never have expected to attend – at Kelvingrove Art Gallery. It was a celebration of seventy years of Alcoholics Anonymous in Scotland. Obviously the anonymity of those involved made it difficult to tell the story – ‘Sir Phillip D’ has less impact than ‘Lord Dundas’ who openly spoke about his involvement at the time – and one of the Traditions does say

‘Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion’

And the result was just a very poor video and some large posters of the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions.

I’m not as against AA as some people think and it does have an amazing story. I just think the world has moved on since the thirties and there are better, more positive ways, of dealing with problem drinking. But if it works, it works. Maybe somebody should write a daytime soap based on the work of a Community Addiction Worker. :p

Also I don’t like the way that people related to it make definitive statements without citing any research – a bit like people on social media.

I once heard someone publicising her book about ‘alcoholism’ (but not the fellowship) and she claimed that we know addiction is caused by a faulty gene. Eh, no we don’t as no research has proved that and that only comes from people who’d like to prove that.

I do sooooo wish people would not make off-the-cuff judgements about genetics without having some valid research to back up what they’re saying….but we can only speculate what might have happened if Mr Strachan had continued to play Leigh Griffiths on his own up front with a packed midfield.

Mr Strachan is keen on saying things along the lines of, ‘you’ve never been a manager, you don’t know what it’s like.’

Prof Darren Griffin of the University of Kent got his Master’s in Genetics in 1992 and he says that the average height of the Scots is a little bit taller than the Spaniards, the Portuguese, the Brazilians and the Argentinians. I go with the Prof.

Genetics – the final excuse for twenty years of failure to qualify.

Moving swiftly on.

Last week I drew attention to friend Jill’s blog. This week I want to highlight another blog which, this week, deals with the subject of casual sex from a female perspective. I know the writer and she is Catherine – a former student of mine from about ten years ago. There has been another blog published on this site since the casual sex one but any and all that Catherine writes are worth reading.

https://fivestagesofmeh.blog/

It’s not something I’ve spoken much about. From any perspective. References to me and sex have tended to be more historic than current. Or in some feature stuff about me, sex and Prostate Cancer in the Daily Record a wee while back. Lots of reasons – one of which involved Andrew Lloyd-Webber. 🙂

Indeed, sometimes it’s been difficult enough to talk about alcohol and cancer issues, which are all in the past cos of tremendous help from family and friends, which, thankfully, does not include Tory party leader in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, whose advice for anyone suffering a ‘nervous breakdown’ was to ‘man up’. No, I’m not sure what she means by that even if she was referring to the Tories.

Right. Let’s lighten things up a bit. 😀

First, Skippy and me would like to welcome Alexis Jessica Kelly into the world. News came in as we went on air. More next week 🙂

My thanks to those who have seen my new haircut and everyone seems to like it. It is a good haircut but I miss the locks with which I can play. As I have explained, the current length goes back to the start of eight weeks of radiotherapy several years ago. It may sound egotistical but I wanted to emphasise my relative youth compared with the others receiving the same treatment.

And I do know a former BBC colleague who is due to receive a similar treatment and was in hospital to get measured up for the tattoos (or whatever they use these days) which make sure that the lasers hit the right spot.

My tattoos, basically three dots, weren’t very good. The (mainly female) nurses who helped line me up often had to use a felt pen to make sure they were properly highlighted. They also used to enjoy making witty comments like ‘I can’t see the wood for the trees.’ 🙂

All the hair in that part of my body was burnt off – and very comfortable it was too…….and still is.

And finally, you may be wondering how I got on in my second class in Social Psychology. Well, I didn’t go. In true student fashion, I spent the afternoon in the pub. Basically I met up for lunch with a couple of friends and former work colleagues for lunch and stayed on a wee while after the food bit. I would stress that one worker was on her day off and the other had just finished her shift.

I would also like to say thanks to Hengler’s Circus (the Wetherspoons in Sauchiehall Street) for having a more sensible size of glass for my orange juice than your colleagues in the China/Crystal Palace in Jamaica Street. 😀

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still happily keeping it simple. Honest.

Iaint850, the Samson of Summerston (with my shorn locks) but no, no Delilah.

In my first time at university and, indeed, my first Post Grad at Jordanhill College, I was involved in putting bands and artistes on at various events. They ranged from the Glitter Band (without Gary) and Alvin Stardust (a really nice guy) to more folkie bands like the JSD Band, Contraband (with Mae McKenna) and, of course, Silly Wizard (with Phil Cunningham).

Phil now does a lot of television and has recently been presenting a three part series called Wayfaring Strangers on BBC 2 which is well worth watching on iPlayer (Tuesday nights at 7) particularly this week just past when country music was featured.

This is the title track sung by the lovely, both in voice and in looks, Rhiannon Giddens accompanied by Phil.

When Words Fail, Music Speaks (Lyrics Mania)

October 5, 2017

And so dear listener, as hinted at last week, I have joined the Twitter generation and whilst my handle – JohnTho64114434 – may seem a bit lengthy it is, however, quite far removed from my real name of Iaint850. But the potential (?) of social media hit me when I was receiving various Messages from friend Jill (of whom more in a minute) and she was following me on Twitter but I couldn’t find her and then the landline rang. My answering machine kicks in but, if it’s someone I know, as they start to leave a message, then I pick up the phone; talk to the person; and then, on this occasion, they also sent an e-mail.

Suddenly, there’s a-pinging and a-ringing all over the house and in my head. It will take me a while to get the hang of some things but in the meantime, be gentle with me. 😉

I never really got into the way of Bebo, MySpace, any of the Messengers (AOL, MSN or BBM) or Friends Reunited. It was a big move for me, after I left the College, to realise that e-mail could be used for friendly reasons (and I still use that a lot as I’m not too sure who’s on what but possibly too much) and the blog followed on from that as a means of keeping people up to date on my cancer experience.

So, a wee break in my narrative (oo-er, get you) to mention Jill. Her blog is called Midlife Smarts and it has just been revamped. It has pictures and it has had bits published elsewhere. She also links in with other bloggers and there’s a strong (mid)lifestyle element to it. It’s really good. 😀 😀 😀

https://www.midlifesmarts.com/

Me? I’m reminded of a presenter with whom I used to work, called Colin Bell, who used, possibly, the last manual typewriter in the BBC. He would come in in the morning, ignore everyone else (even me shouting ‘how’s yoursel’, big man?’), put a piece of paper in the typewriter, type the words ‘Hello, I’m Colin Bell’ and then go pour himself a coffee, light up a cigarette and start reading the newspapers.

Me? I type in the words, ‘And so dear listener’ and I’m off and running with one thousand words of stuff. I do look at it later and do some re-writing but what you get is how I feel at the time. In the early days, I did have a kinda editorial committee and there are times when I could do with one now. 😦

But I’ve still to get into the Twitter frame of mind but I am terrified by Trump’s utterances and amazed at the problems faced by Scotrail on a daily basis.

I also use What’sApp and I’m on but have never used WAYN – as I’m not too sure what it is but it looks fun and I’ve never, ever felt settled with Online dating but I should get a new profile pic as I was at a new hairdresser this week (George) who knows my usual hairdresser, Sandra, and, let’s just say hair grows but it’s not too much of a shock as it was getting shorter anyway. As long as I can play with my hair I’m happy but no, no hipster beard and no, no selfie.

So, finally, my evening class this year is an Introduction to Social Psychology and I may be about to learn even more about myself (gulp). I enjoyed Gaelic 1 last year but am not confident enough to do Gaelic 2. I didn’t take enough of it in last year and I realise now that I went through a period when my head was clogged up for various reasons; hopefully people out there now accept that. 🙂

But it is also a brilliant example of how far I have come in my own digital world. I have spoken, often, of doing drink’n’drugs at Paisley Uny as the defining moment of my recent life. Many reasons, but in this context, it was being introduced to the wonderful world of Inter Library Loans and why and how I should check first to see if it was available to me online and very often it was. Good friend and academic adviser Jenny H and I have spoken about the fun of finding journal articles and feeling a sense of achievement – even if the serious writing had still to be done.

Oh, Google Scholar, how I came to love you 🙂 x 🙂 x

This week, as part of the introduction to the course, we were told about Moodle – an online uni-information service. Last year, after several days of e-mailing I got my Moodle sorted. It’s up there with my favourites. Would I have similar problems this year? It only took two clicks and there was this year’s homepage with my name and subject. See me, see online.

(although I continued to fill out Inter-Library-Loans on pieces of paper. No. No reason)

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

iaint850, still looking at mirrors to get used to it and totally denying those rumours that when I worked night shift, I’d go through to the communal lounge in the project to look at myself in the big windows as they showed much more of me than the toilet mirror did. 😉

And so to music.

It could have been the Foo Fighters cos I wanted to make a point about age and Radio1’s fiftieth anniversary; it could have been Tom Petty whose music I could never identify but whenever I heard a track of his I’d go ‘I like that’; or it could have been Lady Antebellum and that serves as a useful reminder that I must stop acting on impulse (but I know that – I just find it difficult not to)

Instead it’s Jason Aldean who was the musician onstage when the bullets started ringing out at a country music festival in Las Vegas as one man (one man?) and his collection of weapons killed about sixty people and injured many others.