Archive for November, 2018

‘Cabbage is very resilient. You can always trust a cabbage.’

November 30, 2018

Tremendously deep thoughts there from a programme I caught on the VICE Channel about the changes for young people in Romania since the end of the Communist regime. Yes. I do need to get out more. Yes. I do. 😀

And so dear listener, as far as I am concerned there is only one story in town this week. I had an MRI scan at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. For new listeners, here’s a quick re-cap.

2018 has not been a good year for me and it’s not that long until the Annual Blog Personality of the Year Awards and I’m struggling to find enough events to talk about. The year started with a heart scare/event/whatever and that’s why I was sent for the MRI scan.

And the Royal Infirmary, for those who don’t know it, is in the oldest and most historical part of Glasgow next to the graveyard – the Necropolis, which is the ‘dead centre’ of town – and up from where Duke Street Prison used to be with its last hanging in 1928 but when the wind blows from the West you can still hear the Gallows thud – and, well, you get the picture.

Told you it would be quick. 😉

Anyway, it started simply enough. I took the train into town and a taxi from the station up to the Royal. I could have walked but it was Thursday and it was wet and windy. I didn’t want to arrive ruffled. 😦

And I was dropped off at the Queen Elizabeth Entrance and that’s where it all went Pete Tong, didn’t it? I did ask where the MRI Department is, but once I’m past that WH Smith I’m lost. So a man saw that I was lost and pointed out that if I followed the green band on the wall – the one that said if you want the MRI Department follow the green band – I’d find it and I found it.

And then rub me down with the entire contents of a jar of warm molasses if I didn’t see that guy again, asking someone else for directions, himself. I turned my head so he didn’t see my smirk. 😉

A young man (James) came out to ask questions of me. I think he skipped on the section about whether I was pregnant. I’m not, anyway.

But he did ask me whether I’d had a tattoo recently to which I said ‘No, but I had considered it but I’d probably left it too late.’ To which he said, ‘There was a 93 year old lady in a few days ago and she had just had one done.’

Mmmmmmm, food for thought or what? 😉

Anyway, James took away my CD to play (The Pistol Annies) but he came back and gave me instructions about what was going to happen. Basically, for me, an ECG was plugged up to my heart and a heavy thing was laid across me – not that I planned to run away – and I entered the coffin. ‘Cos that’s what it feels like to me – a roomy coffin – and once I was in I was given breathing exercises to do. As if I planned to stop breathing?

And my mindfulness training came back to me and I didn’t panic altho’ I may have had a tear in my eye as Christmases past floated past. 🙂

And then I was done. Now I have no idea whether I was taken on time, how long I was in for or anything like that. About an hour? It’s a hospital. It’s full of sick people. They don’t keep to time. And it’s the NHS staff who deal brilliantly with each individual they work with – as do everyone who works in social care. We deal with people – not Key Performance Indicators.

(Wee reminder there of the initial fall out with a member of management that ultimately led to my demise and depression)

But I was done and I could go. I asked again for the Way Out and was given directions. I turned a corner and looked puzzled and a member of staff asked if I was looking for the Way Out and pointed at a door which opened automatically. She cackled and I left the building.

I went through it and ruffle me truffles with a jar of warm fromage frais that’s been roasting on someone’s chestnuts.

It was as if I’d walked straight into the Necropolis itself. Was that the cadavers’ door I’d walked through – the short cut that meant the grave robbers could get the bodies while they were still warm? The wind blew and the rain cascaded and my grummets shrank with fear.

I ran. And ran past two men who said, ‘Looks like we got ourselves a live one here.’

And I ran. Past the Cathedral House Hotel which is the most haunted place in Glasgow.

And I ran. Past the Provand’s Lordship which is the oldest house in Glasgow….and the College Bar…..and, and, and……..I reached the railway station and caught the 1656 up the road and got home, safely, only to find that the binmen had not emptied my green bin but they’d emptied all the others in the street. Apart from that, it was all pretty uneventful. 😀 😀 😀

Toraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple (I could always post it)

Iaint850, whose latest ambition is to be ‘a vegan condom influencer on Instagram’. Go on, Google it, I dare you.

Here, for the second week in a row, is/are the Pistol Annies and Takin’ Pills.


‘TV gives everyone an image, but radio gives birth to a million images in a million brains’ (Peggy Noonan)

November 23, 2018

And so, dear listener, this week I celebrated, for me, a significant anniversary. Five years ago, I graduated with an MSc in Alcohol and Drug Studies, something which would never have occurred to me some twelve years ago when my alcohol dependency was not recognised at all but I was off work with ‘exhaustion’. 😦

I’ve spoken muchly in the past about the friendships that resulted from my time as a Post Grad student – not just with fellow students- but other folk, particularly in that small area that was the library, café and lecture rooms, and one day I’ll tell you about Loud Peter. 😉

A lot of fun and memories and the transition from ‘recovering alcoholic’ to ‘someone who doesn’t drink’ and yet no matter how often I tell that, there are still people who think I avoided a university dinner this week, cos of the need to avoid alcohol.

I just have no interest in alcohol and I have no cravings to fight and sometimes an event no longer holds interest for me.

On the other hand, a few weeks ago, myself, good friend Debbie and one of my new SDF pals had a jolly interesting chat about substance use in residential settings; trust me – just a wee bit different from some of the things that get discussed at one of these reunion dinners after the port has been passed. 😉

And yes, the SDF is going well and I do not apologise for yet again drawing attention to something co-written by someone with a name not dissimilar to my own.

but in the blog all of the views expressed, unless otherwise stated, are my own.

Actually maybe I should write a movie screenplay or TV drama called Brief Intervention to show the world of alcohol treatment since the seventies instead of the version that gets trotted out every so often.

But in the real world, if it works for you, then it works.

So, one or two people I miss from the last five years, but people know who they are and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without all those people……sitting here on my own in my own back bedroom hammering out one thousand words read by goodness know who. But thank you 🙂 x

Let’s move on. Swiftly.

Well done, Missie K….two major steps in your life in one go….you’re getting further away from Glasgow each time but my diary remains flexible and they haven’t announced the acts for the Bandstand yet.

Or, Missie K, Aye Write? I had loads of tickets for things earlier this year, but a combo of a leaky aortic valve and the cold weather (and the Beast from the East was on its way) put me off.

Or just coffee?

And a big well done to the Scottish men’s football team, almost doing as well as their female counterparts, and I wonder how Scotland would have done in the World Cup qualification if Gordon Strachan had played either Calum McGregor or James Forrest form the sub’s bench instead of the West Brom reserve Chris Iwelumo……said no Patrick Thistle fan ever.

And my Christmas tree is down from the attic but I have promised my next door neighbour, Mary, that I won’t put it up just yet. But I’d like to. 😀

And it looks like I’m looking for a new grass cutter for next year. He and his two mates have not finished it off for the year like they said they would which means I can’t post the final set of pics on social media. Sorry. 😦

And finally, as some of you know, I’ve been visiting a patient in the Beatson recently but the other day I went in via the Tom Wheldon Building where I had had my own radiotherapy over thirty-seven days a wee while back. Some of it hasn’t changed and the seats where I, and some others, sat were filled by a fresh set of men and some women.

But they weren’t laughing. We had lots of wee in-jokes and that kind of gallows humour that accompanies these things where there’s sometimes a wee hint of serious illness.

Lots of good memories and the odd tear.

Tioraidh, still wearing the badge and still keeping it simple or whatever.

Iaint850, who had a vegetable curry in Masala Twist the other night and was tempted by the haggis pakora but didn’t succumb.

So BBC Radio Scotland has just celebrated its fortieth anniversary and I’m proud to have been part of its history. And I did listen to a show on Friday afternoon that was supposed to be celebrating it but had some well known names telling a few anecdotes…….but not very well. In the first hour.

I mean I wasn’t looking for anyone to reprise the story of the night drink was taken and only a sharp and sober news announcer realised that the message he had just received that the Queen was dead was perhaps not true…..

The same news announcer was also the last man to read a news bulletin from the Edinburgh studios before they moved to Glasgow and managed to keep reading when a young and buxom lady began to remove her clothes in front of him but she may still be working there so she shall remain nameless.

The reporter in the Oban studio who was supposed to give an update on the Mod but was obviously still enjoying it and the afternoon presenter whose final words, on his last programme in the last minute, were, ‘It’s your BBC.’

But, no, these are figments of the imagination. These never happened.

But in my own early days, amongst other things, I presented church services until the, then, Head of Radio, Scotland (Chris Irwin) decided he didn’t like my voice. And that dear listener was that.

Here’s the Pistol Annies with Hell on Heels

We see people brand new people They’re something to see When we’re nightclubbing Bright-white clubbing Oh isn’t it wild? (Iggy Pop)

November 16, 2018

And I managed to get that track into a Radio 5 documentary I once did about what was happening to Glasgow post Year of Culture. 😀

And so dear listener, this may well be a shorter blog again this week.

Various things are happening and occasionally my attention is elsewhere. But that does not mean that good things are not happening. 😉

For example…….

Recently I, and the other member of the book club, read a smashing book called ‘our house’ by Louise Candlish. Now whilst I have Twitter, I’m not the biggest fan of it (JohnTho64114434 since you ask) but I do follow @OrkneyLibrary.

About a week ago, I couldn’t help but notice that their own book club had selected ‘our house’ as their book of the month, so I quickly tweeted how good a book it was and how much I’d enjoyed it. Ten minutes later I got a ‘like’ from @LouiseCandlish…….the author!!!!!!! 😀 😀 😀

I’d not noticed her name in the thread (as we call it). My legs went giddy.

Sometimes there is a reason for social media. 🙂

And the editing’s going well at the moment and people are actually getting back to me and saying how pleased they are with what I’ve done for them…..and they pay pretty quickly…….and there is an Out of Office up on my mail altho’ I’m not but if I can, I will.

And whilst I appreciated much of the coverage by the BBC and other broadcasters of all the Remembrance Day stuff, I am annoyed at one piece.

Brilliant portraits on beaches of people who were involved in conflict and described on the BBC Website as eleven soldiers. At least one was a medical person.

I’m talking about St Andrew’s Beach and the portrait of Dr Elsie Maud Inglis (Aug 16 1864 to November 26 1917). Described as ‘a suffragist and campaogner’ Indian-born Elsie trained as a surgeon and was sent to Serbia and Russia, but died from a terminal illness. At least the Daily Record got it right and I think the Northern Ireland beach portrait was a nurse……..

But then I’ve got a lot of time for medical people just now as, apart from anything else, the nurses at Maryhill Health Centre still ask to see me from time to time. Yes. My blood pressure is still a bit high at the moment but thanks for asking. 🙂

Breaking News: I have an MRI Scan at the Royal at the end of this month.

And I’ve been down the Beatson Cancer Centre quite a lot recently, doing some visiting, and some of you may have seen me post, on Facebook, a wee pic of Bingham’s Pond (to give it its official name) around which I walked before my own successful treatment of about ten years ago and still do a wee bit now as well……..settling, so it is. 🙂

And then I go in and sit for a while and on this occasion I was sat next to a nurse who was wearing a lanyard with the word ‘Catwalk’ on it. So I asked her what it was.

Older listeners, do you remember the Catwalk Rock Lounge at the bottom of Union Street? For that was the Catwalk being referred to.

It was in Union Street and was a sibling of the Cathouse and the Garage. I talked about a place called the Solid Rock Café in Hope Street. She met that with Volcano and a place called Inferno’s – she thought it was called. Was that the converted church in Pitt Street? I threw in Clatty Pat’s and Bonkers Show Bar but I don’t think she was too impressed by Bonkers. And no, there is no payoff or punchline…….I don’t think, but she was called Irene……… 😉

And finally, Doctor Who is doing my head in. I do not watch it for nice wee dramas about the partition of India in 1947. I watch it for running up and down corridors and monster/aliens/whatevers that won’t let me sleep, like the Weeping Angels, not those very nice Demons of the Punjab who look after those who die alone. They were supposed to be assassins, fgs (for goodness sake – it’s a new TLA, I’ve invented)

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge (altho’ I almost lost one) and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, and Joanna’s was just before my time and well before hers.

And just a wee quick word on the PM’s Brexit plan.

It was a plan, wasn’t it? All I’ll say is that, a few weeks after my divorce, I gave back some of the CDs. A wee bit of give, a wee bit of take and a little compromise is all we need and we’re there.

So Irene was more a rock chick and I’m more of a country boy these days so let’s go with the Pretenders – in case there was any misunderstanding.

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes.” Maya Angelou

November 9, 2018

And so dear listener, a wee word about fireworks at this time of year.

From the bedroom at the front of the house I can see for miles and miles and miles and could see a million of them; from the back of the house I can see a lot of back gardens and could see hundreds and thousands of them; and if I stood in the porch I could see the man across the road stand out in his back garden – alone – setting fireworks off with his two kids and their mum standing behind the french doors watching the action. 🙂

Son Brian, this may be you next year. 😀

And as one tweeter said, ‘you don’t know fear until the Catherine Wheel has set itself loose from the nail your da’ used to pin it to the fence – now he’s shouting ‘get in the hoose, get back in the f**king hoose.’’

And it was Dwali the next night which accounted for more fireworks.

My other favourite tweet of the week this month was ‘Ma ma’s no talking’ to ma da coz she caught him googling that woman that does the BBC weather forecast’.

But which one? There are so many. 😉

And before, I move swiftly on ……I know there are tidier versions of this out there, but this is for every parent who has taken their son or daughter to play in a football match on a Saturday morning.

Just click on the link and it’s worth the wait……..altho’ the URL does give it away a wee bit.

And it was good (but for sad reasons) to see BBC Reporting Scotland pick up on last week’s call in the blog for more personal service in the High Street.

Here’s another example.

I wanted to book my car in for a free winter health check knowing that if anything was found needing done, I’d have to pay for it. I was put through to a call centre who arranged my booking for Milngavie, which was where I called initially. I was told by the call centre that no such promotion existed……..the next day Milngavie phoned to say, ‘eh, yes it did.’

I took my car in on Monday at 0800 as agreed and sat down and waited. At 0830 I got a text from the workshop, saying my car was done and was being washed and vacuumed and in the meantime, on my phone, were the details of my free health check. The whole thing cost me nothing. So, personal service or someone reading a script in a call centre? which do you prefer?

And finally, for a number of reasons, this is a shorter show than usual, but I’d like to say a wee word about Doctor Who. I don’t care about how politically correct the programme is but not if it’s at the cost of the Doctor running up and down corridors and can we, please, have proper monsters and not one that looks like a metal version of Casper the Friendly Ghost?

Tioraidh, still wearing that poppy and still keeping it simple,

Iaint850, who seems to be very attractive to various dogs in the Botanic Gardens.

Aye, the poppy. It’s that’s time of year.

I’ve seen many different shapes and forms including the very distinctive and very small Iolaire poppy and some others as well the bog standard poppy, of which I have lost two. Oh, for the days when you got a safety pin.

The Iolaire poppy commemorates the loss of 201 servicemen returning home to Lewis after the war and I know of one young man who can tell you that story as the ferry reaches Stornoway.

People will wear the poppy for different reasons but if you disagree why not choose another time of year to do so, if it means that much to you. Let people have their memories and thoughts. They, after all, have to live with the deaths of a loved one for the rest of their lives; you choose to jump on a bandwagon once a year.

The journalist Torcuil Crichton taught me a new Gaelic word this week which he heard from ‘former Downing Street spinner, Alastair Campbell’ – clusterburach. Apologies for the missed accent and I’m not sure if it’s made Google Translator yet.

I met Alastair at Charles Kennedy’s Memorial Service at Glasgow University.

His dad is from Tiree. I know other people with family there and love the sands there.

Torcuil also told the world that he’d be wearing his badge on Sunday at the eleventh hour in Parliament Square. My own house will certainly be quiet at that time.

For a totally different reason, I have found this to be a very gentle and relaxing piece of music this week. The opening was filmed in North Kelvin Meadow just off Wilton Street.

I never knew a guy who carried a mirror in his pocket And a comb up his sleeve-just in case (Shania Twain)

November 1, 2018

And so, dear listener, does that impress you much and do you know anyone like this? And, friend Debbie, I will always deny that story about me using a window in the project as a mirror at 3 in the morning. 😉

So let’s move on swiftly but before I do, can I just say that my sixtieth birthday was much more a milestone than a millstone. 😀

I have an idea which may reverse the tide of digitalisation and I want to share it with you. I even have a name for it. I am going to call it Fulfilment by Personal Service (which is in no way derivative).

It hit me last week. I have spoken previously about my dislike of 151 and 789. I don’t understand what they’re talking about (altho’ I did have brilliant service from one of them who helped me through a TV problem that was not a Virgin problem and introduced me to the buttons down the side) 🙂

A few months ago I was concerned about how much I was paying for my phone. Instead of getting rollovers I was getting bills and I put that down to the increased usage when I was in hospital.

But they continued. I spoke to both the above numbers and they told me I was well in credit but that wasn’t the problem. I happened to be passing the Virgin shop in Sauchiehall Street one day and I went in. Two questions later, I was told that my WiFi had been switched off and that was it back up and running. 🙂

Saturday there…a wee date storage issue and I was straight back. Again some questions, some stuff added to my SD disk and some stuff deleted, and storage problem gone. I went to Waterstone’s and looked at books and bought two. Amazon is great if you know what you want but you can’t browse………not browse in a bookshop sense anyway.

Waterstone’s also does coffee and cake. 🙂

And then I got a couple of messages (text as opposed to bread and milk) from the Green Zone aka Maryhill Health Centre. One was explaining that it was now possible to book Skype conversations with my doctor or, in a separate message, the nurses were telling me that it was at least six weeks since they’d seen me and would I like to arrange to pop in and see them? I know which I’m going for.

Incidentally I think all the nurses in the Zone are female and, do you know what? Nobody cares as long as you ‘get seen’. 😉

Supermarket shopping? Self-scan or staffed aisle? Altho’ at Morrison’s this morning finding a staffed aisle was difficult ……until I asked.

So, are you beginning to get the idea? Have you had similar experiences? Please share them here or with me in other ways. I’m not too sure where I’m going with this but I do think we, as people handing over our money, deserve good personal service whether it’s in a shop or at the bit where you go to metaphorically fill your basket and hand over your credit card security number.

Indeed word reaches me as I write this that Ikea have opened a small store In Tottenham Court Road in London to offer a design service before people go online to buy things………

And if you’re interested, my academic editing service (available from is a service designed to meet an individual’s needs albeit all done by e-mail.

And finally, a drugs training workshop I was due to attend was cancelled but I was offered an interesting alternative the following Tuesday.

‘Would you like, jt, to do alcohol in the morning and drugs in the afternoon?’

My smile was of a very wry nature.

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

Iaint850, deeply envious of the multi-talented Bradley Walsh who I once spoke to on the phone.

Now, long term listeners of this blog will remember that, from time to time, I have attended formal dinners at Glasgow University and one of them is due up soon and it is a significant anniversary of that dinner club but I’m not going.

It’s nothing to do with alcohol itself. I don’t miss it and I get no cravings and I put that down to working with a professional addiction worker and not going to meetings where alcohol is the only topic. That wouldn’t have worked for me.

It’s just been so long since I’ve seen many of the folk who’ll be there and there’s a wee bit of anxiety that’s been hanging about that I won’t settle and I’ll get up and walk. I do like to talk to people and I do like to catch up but in smaller settings, e.g. curries, lunches, coffees or conferences on Hep C (coming to a Hilton Hotel near you next week).

It’s no big deal for me but it’s good that I’ve decided now. How will I fill that gap in the diary? Will I do anything social? Well, from time to time recently I’ve been going for walks in the dark, mostly designed to keep me out later and to make me sleep longer. It’s not as sad as it sounds. I have no dog to walk and I don’t jog/run.

I’ll maybe drive the car down to the University and go for a walk in the West End Perk where the phantoms might be dancing (Bridie).

Here, by way of a special request, is/are Bauhaus and their tribute to a great Hallowe’en hero – Bella Lugosi.