Archive for February, 2019

“What i like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.” ― Karl Lagerfeld

February 22, 2019

And so, dear listener, we are well and truly into the next phase. Someone did say that I was moving forward but, tbh, there have been times in the last fourteen years when I was quite happy to stand still. I suppose the two years at UWS (Paisley) followed by most of my time with Blue Triangle represent much of that and the people who contributed and, indeed, the time at Oran Mor when both, plus a good friend, all coincided, well that kinda summed it up. 🙂

But we are moving on and it is fascinating what I am learning about my sister from all her files and folders. I did once ask her (a la Theresa May) if she had ever broken the law. She explained that she had once used her position as an auditor to see how her mortgage for a new house was doing. 😉

She then looked at me and said, ‘I don’t think I’ll ask.’

(One thing I learned from an early age was that, if you’re running from the police, don’t run home or even in that direction)

My sister was a great respecter of rules and regulations – very much like A Man Called Ove in a Christmas present I’m reading and is a really lovely book – and she would not park in a parent and child parking space even if she was the only car in the car park. And it was half past nine on a Boxing Day and ASDA didn’t open until ten.

So, it was with some surprise that, looking through one of her many folders, I found a parking ticket! It seems to have been paid straightaway and, unusually, for my sister, there does not seem to have been any series of follow up mails explaining how the police had got it all wrong and getting them to apologise.

She usually won all those battles even if it was just a case of wearing the opposition down. 😀

I’ve also found the letter welcoming her to the Civil Service (Gosh…….all that actual typewriting!!!) and also her copy of the Official Secrets Act that she had to find.

I do wonder what I have lying around (or more probably in the attic) that reveals secrets about me…..and there was I thinking that clearing my browser on a daily basis was enough to put people off.

But there is a downside to this. You’re going through someone else’s possessions knowing that they will never see those possessions again. Wondering what their memories were.

But then your task takes over.

Does anyone know a charity that might be willing to collect a lot of good quality women’s clothes and shoes from a flat in Maryhill? Good parking. And there’s a vast amount of books and pictures relating to Mary, Queen of Scots – a big interest of my sister. Maybe a collector or a society. If you know anyone let me know. Otherwise it’s a Google.

And I was reminded of when I was doing the tidying for our mum. I seemed to have a lot to shred and started to do so with a glass of whisky to keep me going. Shredding is really boring; so I stopped the shredding and just drank the whisky. 😦

Moving on and to lighten the load this was highlighted by a number of people;

Warwick Davis is the host of a daytime TV programme called Tenable, which I don’t watch, but apparently his response to a Tenable contestant who said, ‘I would describe my music as an ethereal, electronic-driven experiment rooted in R & B, hip-hop and jazz.’

was

‘Do you do any Westlife covers?’

And finally, I am beginning to catch up with folk – especially those with whom I had to cancel lunches, dinners and coffees during my sister’s illness. One such person is Ann from Prostate Cancer UK and it was nice to catch up at the reopened Café 13 in Govan.

I have a problem with some of these places. I do like toasties but the problem with sourdough bread toasties is that I find the crusts awful difficult to eat and because of the size of those crusts it does look as if I’ve left a lot on the plate. But it was nice.

And I have been trying to arrange a catch up curry with a couple of guys I was at uny with first time round. Because they’re so busy it’s going to happen in April. I remember when I had a social life. It’s on its way back.

Tioraidh, still keeping it simple and still completely fine

Iaint850, glad that the weather’s so good but I dropped my phone and it’s not too well at the moment.

So, when the train between Summerston and Queen Street works, it works well (12 minutes) but oh, when it doesn’t……

Wednesday, after my return to SDF (and more next week) I went for the 1604 out of Queen Street. I thought I was late but the ticket gate man said, ‘No, you’re fine. Just join the crowd at the front train……they’re just waiting for it to arrive.’

So I did and by the time I got there, it had been cancelled and I’d to wait thirty-five minutes for the next one.

And then on Friday, the conductor on the train told us that the train would be terminating at Kelvindale as there had been a fatality at Anniesland.

I am disgusted with myself to say that my first thought was that I’d be getting off long before then anyway.

The Monkees were, possibly, the first manufactured boy band in television times but despite doubts about their musical skills, they still produced some top pop tunes. Pete Tork was a big part of that process.

Growing up is such a barbarous business, full of inconvenience and pimples. (J.M. Barrie)

February 15, 2019

And so dear listener, again many thanks for messages of sympathy and similar after my sister passed away a few weeks ago and her funeral was just over a week ago. Some nice memories from her friends down south, with whom she worked all her working life, were amongst them. 🙂

And I’m amazed at the number of people who didn’t realise that we were originally from Peterhead but, there again, neither of us made too much of it*

Anyway, I’m now at the stage of doing some thank yous and whilst my legal team is doing the big stuff (like bank accounts) I’m also going around the organisations of which she was a member e.g. the various National Trusts in the West of Scotland, and advising them that she has passed away and how much she enjoyed the walks with them but, unfortunately, she won’t be renewing her subscription so can you cancel it? Or is that a bit brutal?

Private Eye have been told that she won’t be renewing her subscription but can they send it to my address in the meantime. 😉

*Still too much fish and not enough town on ‘Fish Town’ BBC Scotland TV, but I’m quite excited by the new fish market. At the ages of 16,17, 18 and 19 it was in the fish market and around the harbour that I worked on Saturdays and during holidays. 😀

So you can imagine my excitement when I also saw the new fishmarket on BBC TV news – something to do with Brexit. It is so different from the one I worked in. It’s difficult to imagine now but one of my tasks was, well, there were four phone boxes in the market numbered, imaginatively, one – four and when I heard one ringing, I would go answer it and it was probably one fish buyer looking for another fish buyer and I would go to the PA system and say. ‘Joe Smith to Phone Box Four.’

There were other reasons why Peterhead became the biggest white fish port in Europe but I like to think I played my part. 😉

So, yes, there is an estate to be settled and, ultimately, I could be pleasantly surprised but that is a very long way off and, yes, I may have to consider Inheritance Tax issues but given that I currently receive weekly Working Tax Credits of just over £7, some people may have to forgive me when I say, and I mean it most sincerely, I really do, that the current sum of my ambitions are some new pots and pans and a vacuum cleaner** and I’ve never been to Kyle of Lochalsh…….

** that’s the BBC man in me speaking. But what’s the clue?

Maybe, for the first time in my life, other than deciding to bequeath everything in my will to my son and family, I can do something for them whilst I am still alive and that will give me more pleasure than anything else.

I have put them through a lot in recent years, starting just over twelve years ago and questions of my own mortality have never been that far away from me ever since

But, yes, it would be good to get away and to book that now so I am committed.

Someone did suggest that I should consider Shetland and I have never been there. I’ve been to Orkney a few times – but never Shetland.

And so, last week, I sat down to watch the detective series called ‘Shetland’ and when the announcer said something like ‘stunning scenery’ I thought this is it. 😀

One dismembered body, a crappy hotel that looks as if it was thrown up in the days of Sullom Voe refinery construction almost fifty years ago and a similar caravan site that played home to women described as ‘away day girls’ – a phrase I had not heard since the early days of oil exploration in Aberdeen and Peterhead when some ladies of the night came up from Glasgow and Edinburgh but, I’m proud to say, were soon seen off by the local talent.

To be honest, it did not sell Shetland to me. 😦

And finally, while I’ll never be rich from the editing. I was in Morrison’s in Anniesland on Saturday morning doing my big shopping (they have a fish counter; the ASDA has a fish shelf or two) and the young man at the till told me he was a geology student. I told him I was a ‘proof-reader’ and gave him two free pieces of advice.

‘Always put yourself in the position of the reader. Never assume they have your knowledge and, anyway, explaining something to the reader shows everyone else that you understand what you’re talking about.

‘Turn the title of what you’re writing into a question – either in reality on paper or in your head. That way when you’re stuck in writing something, you go back to the question and see how, what you’re writing about, can help find the answer.’

It also applies to report writing, eulogies and social media posts.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, having to be more grown up than I have ever been in my life and not sure I like it

And so the saddest story of the week has to be the Mars Rover robot which had been sending back information about Mars for something like fifteen years without complaining and then sent a final message; ‘My battery is low and it’s getting dark.’

R.I.P. Mars Rover.

Sorry, I was going to add something else but really, in a week when I’m sorting out an estate and have 12,000 words to edit this weekend some of which come from Urban Management, Zhou Enlai School of Government, Nankai University, there is only one piece of music, isn’t there?

‘Like all big sisters, Sheila knew where the sticking plaster was kept and how best to apply it’ (anon, kinda)

February 7, 2019

And so dear listener, yes, most of this will be about the funeral but in a nice way.

But first, a couple of wee rants;

I think the O2 ABC in Sauchiehall Street is as much a cultural icon as the Art School. My last trip was on 10th December 2016 when J, the blog’s favest librarian, and I went to see Alabama 3 on what was the tenth anniversary of my Cold Turkey and had a great time.

Funnily enough, my sister was a great supporter of Celtic Connections and saw a few gigs there but I think she would have gone to the seated area upstairs.

I think it’s also a shame that Campus next door looks as if it’s going to be demolished as well.

There needs to be a public debate on the re-building of the Art School if public money is to be used……

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-44520030

And I make no apologies for using a BBC site as, at 42p per day, the BBC licence fee offers amazing value – all those TV channels (including two for children and a new one coming soon for viewers in Scotland) myriads of radio stations (including one for Scotland and the Gaelic as well), multiple websites and BBC iPlayer which altho’ currently free to use, still costs money to produce.

I’m about to watch a programme on iPlayer from BBC 4 from Wednesday night in which David Dimbleby examines a ‘landscape dotted with buildings unlike those anywhere in Britain’ as he travels throughout Scotland ranging from the ‘crofts of the Outer Hebrides to the tenements of Glasgow’.

What’s not to like about that?

The other rant? Liam Neeson.

I’m not so annoyed that he went out to kill a man of a certain colour of skin but rather that he went out to kill someone at all. I’m not sure I’ve seen that many of his films but doesn’t he always play some form of vigilante and isn’t there a lot of people being killed horribly? The USA, inter al, and its President often blame arcade shoot ’em up games as being responsible for many of the multiple shooting incidents that occur regularly in the States. What about appearing in your own violent films? Does that have any effect? There’s a PhD in that.

He will certainly not appear in the screenplay jokingly (?) discussed by a former BBC colleague and me earlier in the week. I won’t give too much away but my own favourite character is a man who, in an Edinburgh accent, introduces himself as ‘The name’s Knox. Hard Knox.’ And my suggestion for the name of the production company? Covenanter Productions. That doesn’t give too much away, does it?

And finally, did you know that my sister was a fan of the blog? Well, I’m not so sure the word ‘fan’ is correct but since I took possession of her mobile devices I have discovered that she had her phone alarm set for 11 every Saturday morning – ‘Read John’s blog’ – or did I tell you that last week?

The days seem to run together just now.

Tioraidh, still wearing the badge and back to keeping it simple.

Iaint850, beginning to catch up with people and all offers considered.

So, just a few words on my sister’s funeral.

It went well. She’d have been impressed by how well it all went.

Y’see my sister was an auditor and was continually looking for value for money both in her personal and professional life. She enjoyed complaining and took it seriously. So, whatever your faith, creed or religion it was impossible to get away from the feeling that she was watching us organise things for the funeral but I think me and Son Brian done okay.

He’ll be perfect when it’s my turn.

The service was taken by a Civil Celebrant called Karen who was excellent. There was no pretence that she knew Sheila but explained that the stories had been provided by the family and, yes, they were although I was delighted that she picked up on one glaring error in the script where I called my mum Agnes, when of course she was known as Nan.

The Order of Service card looked good as I’d found a picture of Sheila as a wee girl with freckles and lovely hair with a pencil and jotter (as we used to call them) and the question was posed as to whether that was her practising to be an auditor. I liked the words on the card about what being a big sister meant but then I would; I wrote them. See the quote at the top.

Son Brian chose the music.

The turnout was good altho’ not everyone came back to Café Source Too for soup and sandwiches.

This is based at Hillhead Rugby Club, Hughenden, and was where Sheila and other ladies of a certain age went for Keep Fit on a Monday morning and it says a lot for the camaraderie that Sheila continued to go down even as the cancers were taking their effect. She enjoyed the gossip but often the first question directed at her was, ‘Written any good letters of complaint this weekend?’

But then things began to get worse and everyone could see that. We all did what we could to help and to make her feel better. Someone at the Beatson cut her hair and styled it and it looked brilliant but it also looked as if personal care was their priority but the Beatson NHS staff were brilliant. Brilliant.

Outwith the hospital I/we did things like I got professional cleaners in to her Glasgow flat. The neighbours though that meant she was getting out but it was more a confidence boost for my sister.

It was not without humour. I explained to the two jolly maids (wee clue to the name of the company) that she was in the Beatson and one of them said, ‘That’s nice.’

‘The Beatson?’ I said. ‘Nice?’

‘Oh,’ she said, ‘I thought you said she’s in Ibiza. Sorry.’

She never saw what they had done, but it was well cleaned.

So it’s all over and we move on to the next stage but one last thought after the events of last week.

It would have been nice to phone my big sister after it was all over just to tell her how things had gone. 🙂 🙂 🙂

She would have liked this piece of music. She was a big Celtic Connections fan, as I said earlier, and would go to gigs on her own. It’s Ashokan Farewll by Jay Ungar and stick with it.

It was the period of the service designed for reflection on the life of my sister. Most of you didn’t know her but use the next few minutes for some reflection of your own.

See you next week. Hopefully.

When traveling life’s journey it’s good to have a sister’s hand to hold on to.

February 1, 2019

And so dear listener, can I thank all of those who, on Facebook last Sunday, sent what seemed like millions of likes (basically reactions if you don’t know Facebook) and a similar number of good wishes when I broke the bad news about my sister Sheila who had passed away just a few days previously?

Some folk had been keeping in real close touch with me and I’d already contacted them but there were others to whom I’d mentioned it in passing so I thought I’d use Facebook to tell them.

Wow!!!!!! I was overwhelmed. Thanks.

So, yes, my sister Sheila has passed on as people say on these occasions and her funeral is planned for a few days from now. There are reasons for that so it’s not a delay; there’s some folk away who I know would like to be there and some other stuff. I’ll maybe tell you more when it’s all over. In fact I will. It’s part of the sharing that has been a major part of the blog over the years and that will continue.

However, I have now lost one of my listeners. Sheila listened (you know what I mean). She had a wide range of mobile devices which I now have and the mobile phone, which had various alarms on it, had one for Saturday mornings at 11……’Read John’s Blog’……and it’s (ignore any errors in tenses) quite worrying knowing that my older sister has been reading what I get up to (or did).

But she guessed some of it……way back we were brought up in Peterhead and a few years ago she did ask whether I’d ever gone out on a fishing boat.

‘A couple of times.’

‘Did mum know?’

Of course not!!!!!

So there may be some memories and I may well tell you a wee bit more about her last few months and how we all watched the cancers take hold despite the brilliant efforts of the NHS Beatson nurses and how, at times, we were reminded of the last days of my mum which was when my social drinking became an alcoholic habit…….but that’s also for another time……

So it’s going to take me a wee while to settle down. Trips to the Beatson were almost on a daily basis altho’ I did try to take the odd day off or sleeping as lightly as I could, whilst waiting for the phone to ring and towards the end, the number of offers I was getting of lifts because sometimes it’s difficult to concentrate on the driving away, isn’t it?

In my own days of radiotherapy, as soon as my treatment was done for the day, I was into my car and up the road with very loud music the order of the day.

Mind you I kinda miss the daily walks around the pond. But I don’t miss the Pond (wee west end gag there for some of you)

I miss the nurses and other medical staff. I don’t think I gave my number out to as many nurses in the days of Clatty Pats as I’ve done recently. It was Jan who phoned me.

‘I’m not saying you should get down here now but…….’

My neighbour gave me a lift but I was late by a few minutes (as was my son) but we still spent some time with her – knocking each time we went in. It was a habit. And I won’t tell you what I said. That’s between me and my sister.

The Beatson folk were still brilliant at that moment and everyone took their time and explained what was happening. I/we owe them a lot.

For many, many reasons.

My sister was a great supporter of Celtic Connections and people like Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain and enjoyed music like this.