Archive for March, 2019

‘Och Bridie, it’s a rough ol’ routine. You know that going in. You sit down on that floor at your own risk.’

March 28, 2019

And there’ll be a wee bit more from the Derry Girls later. 🙂

But first, dear listener, a great many of you will have been aware of a spat between a relatively well known blogger (in political and blogging circles) and a relatively well known Scottish Labour politician (in political and reality TV circles) which I’m not going to comment on other than to say it brought a new rude word into the world (which I’m not going to use here but is available if you DM me) and which will now replace the word ‘co*kwom*le’ when I describe an area manager with whom I once worked.

There, I feel better for that. Thanks and if I caused any offence, tough. I foolishly believe that people who work in social care should actually care and not seem to see it as an easy opportunity to advance a management career.

(I think I’m legally okay there amn’t I Skippy? I’ll leave you to organise the crowdfunding if I’m not)

But while we’re discussing (carefully) this case can I pay major tribute to @BBCPhilipSim who covered the proceedings on Twitter and I, and many others, were gripped……

Let’s move on but I do feel better for that.

But somebody did ask me the other day about my own listening figures for this blog and it’s an easy 120-150 per week which, given I don’t drop in keywords like Tories, Brexit, Celtic, Rangers or Katie Price, I think is okay. Consider me your Monday morning watercooler moment.

But I am getting out a wee bit more (I make that sound so pathetic, don’t I?) and had a very pleasant lunch with top country music deejay John Collins (Chris Country Radio et al*) and I have no idea what we talked about**** but see that honeycomb cheesecake you can get on the lunch menu? It’s to die for, so it is. 😀

****not strictly true but a useful journalistic device.

* al is not somebody’s name but et al is Latin for ‘and others’; so when you write Smith et al you should write it with a plural verb, but nobody seems to teach these things to students, even those for whom English is their first language, which is where I come in. I mean that what I do is a wee bit more than just that and I did find myself last week explaining to one student how to interpret quantative (number and stats and stuff) data* which is not strictly in my remit.

Sorry, for the wee rant there but somebody asked last week if all I did was to fix apostrophe’s **. Wee coc*wom*le, so he was.

*the word data is also plural and **? I know. It’s deliberate. Okay?

Here’s a trailer for an earlier series of Derry Girls;

And finally I’d be very happy with politicians who didn’t ‘listen’ to what the people said but rather took action and showed leadership. After all, it’s why we voted for them. 😦

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and patiently keeping it simple

Iaint850, who is not too sure about Fleabag but maybe I was brought up to be wary of the ‘fourth wall’.

Was all that more cryptic, John?

Apparently Rock the Boat by the Hues Corporation is pretty big at Irish weddings (think the Slosh but on the floor) and it played a pretty big part in this week’s Derry Girls. I am still attempting to find the clip but in the meantime, here’s a record breaking attempt from some place called Keddy which shows Rock the Boat on your bums in the middle of the street.

For a couple of weeks many years ago I, amongst other duties, was a deejay at the Co-op Camp in Rothesay (I played records from closing time (10 at night) until camp closing down at 12 midnight). If things were quiet you played Beautiful Sunday and this is what happened;

And then twice in my life this next track played a major part; it used to be the closing number in the Clydebank FC Social Club in the Hampden Lounge (upstairs) on a Saturday night and then when I was a zombie;

and a finally ‘and finally’, line dancing ain’t that simple (stick with this….it starts slowly)

(sexist? Moi? Mais oui (on occasion))

We can talk more next week when Davie Moyes is acting Prime Minister of the UK.

Stay safe.

Advertisements

Labour is an insurrection against neoliberalism, not part of your cheese and biscuits circuit…(Paul Mason)

March 21, 2019

I’d be happy if they vowed to eradicate poverty and homelessness for starters. Might actually win a General Election then. 😉

And so dear listener, I’d like to start by mentioning a smashing woman called Jackie who is involved in running a clothes bank in the North of Glasgow who came over to my late sister’s flat and took away what seemed like a million bags of clothes in her car and contacted me later that day to say that most of them had been used. 😀

There’s also been lots of books and some other stuff which has ended up in charity shops in Maryhill and various friends and family and neighbours have asked if they could have stuff which is fine because it’s good that good things get used.

Me? A trough of some plant bulbs which are about to flower very early and a picture of some boats in a storm with the description written in, I think, Polish…..

Things are moving on and soontime I will speak to estate agents and, well, I feel a wee bit more relaxed in many ways. A certain freezer has now been defrosted. 🙂

As indeed have I. A couple of weeks ago it was my grandson’s second birthday but it was one of the last days of heavy showers and I had made a wrong decision to walk down to the ASDA to get newspapers and had got caught in it. Shivering and shaking I called off from the coffee and cakes to which I had been invited by my grandson – just in case – but several Ibuprofen and a mid-afternoon sleep later and I was fine.Still missed out on the event and have yet to play Fireman Sam Skittles with him. 😦

However, I am also more aware of my heart in cold weather and when somebody this week told me he had chest pains during cold weather I found myself shouting at him, ‘go to the doctor!’

And one advantage to no longer labelling myself a pescatarian but simply someone who’d prefer not to eat meat? I can eat wine gums again and it’s such a pleasure.

But other things are going well. Take, for example, the editing. It’s coming up for one set of Easter holidays and then there’s the set when it’s actually Easter. These are busy times for students to submit work. I was asked if I still enjoy it and the answer is yes. I enjoy working with words; I enjoy helping someone’s work to improve; and I enjoy being paid for it. 😀

Indeed, I’m often asked why I started editing. Well, to cut a long story short……..

(Thanks Rosie)

And it’s a love that’s obviously shared by Neil Oliver, Missie K and I (and a few others) who enjoyed listening to Neil talking about five books that meant a lot to him and a very eclectic selection they were but one of the things that impressed me was the fact that he had read several of them on several occasions. Not something I do. I tend to give them away. 😉

On one occasion recently some books were returned cos folk were tidying up prior to selling and buying houses; on another occasion they were returned and the signs were obvious but I continue to ignore them; and there are some that I know I will never see again.

leithid a bheatha

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and continuing to keep it simple.

Iaint850 who is really an actor playing an upbeat cheery character called iaint850

So, as part of my work with the Scottish Drugs Forum, I’ve been attending a couple of training workshops as well as conferences and doing some writing. There’s a part of me that misses working with (service) users but there’s also a part of me that says maybe I’ve reached that time in my life when helping to share experiences and knowledge is the best way forward.

And there was much in the alcohol awareness workshop that I felt would be of great use to folk out there who are maybe a wee bit concerned about their or their friend or family’s drinking.

And with regards to the drugs in the afternoon I have been away from that side of my professional lifetime for some time, so very much a catch up and a talk about trends but, with the current laws doing nothing about regulating, in any way, the manufacture, sales and distribution of things like street valium, there are two things I’d like to highlight.

For some time now, I’ve spoken about my concern about not knowing what goes into the manufacture of drugs, and I do know people who have died (it looks) from street Valium but the other thing is something I’ve only really become aware of recently.

When you or I take an intravenous injection, it’s done in pretty sterile circumstances such as being careful at home or in a hospital and all that that involves in prepping for the jag and getting rid (appropriately) of the gear.

Many users aren’t that careful and things like needles aren’t always that sterile, so when the abscess in the arm begins to show, users can be very reticent about getting treatment in case there are legal concerns. That’s not good.

It’s not so much the drug we need to think about, it’s the person using it.

Which is why I’m about to play a track from a lady called Twinnie called Better When I’m Drunk.

Can I just say, I may be sober but I ain’t boring?

Very few people who take drugs have a drugs problem. (Dr Carl Hart)

March 16, 2019

After all, think of the number of people you know who use drugs (including tobacco and alcohol) who do not have a problem and how many who do? Interesting, eh? But more of that later.

And so, dear listener, cleaning and clearing and tidying and settling my sister’s estate has been put on hold. For a short period. I’ve not actually been told to slow down but many other things are happening and as my son said, ‘there is no rush to getting anything sorted out.’

So things such as? Well, Tuesday of next week sees me doing drink in the morning and drugs in the afternoon. Oh, happy daze. But maybe I should explain. The Scottish Drugs Forum, which is not a Government quango, is a major source of training in the use of substances so I’m going to update my knowledge of alcohol and drugs. 😉

And they were also the ones responsible for bringing substance use expert Dr Carl Hart over from the States. I listened to him on Wednesday night and there was good craic (I spelt it correctly Skippy) about the scientific basis to our knowledge about drugs and how we deal with them and the people who use them.

I was reminded of one of the things I learned during my Post Grad – the drug, the set, the setting……..the drug itself is not addictive. We need to find out a wee bit more about the person using the drug, their environment and what’s happening to them in their life.

And then the next day Carl took part in a major conference on the subject of mental health and drug use altho’ tbh, my two favourite speakers were two professionals who each told us a wee story with a point and that held my attention just a wee bit more than someone talking about reports over the years. 😀

And then I got an exclusive interview with Carl. It was like the old days of waiting until others had spoken and then me as the media moved in – except these days I do it on my phone and not with a jumbo tape recorder called a Uher. I’ll let you know when it all appears on the SDF website.

Well, anyway friend Sharon seemed interested when I told her although her mind was perhaps more on the goat’s cheese tarte that she eats in that café whose name I can never remember but is the next to the rock school in the High Street in Paisley.

No I wasn’t anywhere near the uny library. I have plenty of books of my own *he says moving the conversation swiftly on*

And on Saturday afternoon I was in the company of good friend Missie K as we listened to Neil Oliver who was jolly excellent as he talked about the five books that meant so much to him in his life and, Missie K, you won’t be surprised to know that I watched my DVD of Zulu on Saturday night. 😉

And finally, without me doing anything, editing has started to flood in – except I’ve had to turn some of it down. I am more than happy to do work at short notice or at the weekend, but to be contacted at four o’clock on a Friday afternoon to be asked to proof-read 10,000 words on Saturday and Sunday (maybe 8 – 10 hours) is a bit off, so I turned it down.

But there’s plenty of other work and word of mouth is good which is possibly why I have become the go-to-guy if your essay is on the gasification properties of char. See me, see Mastermind in a few years’ time. 🙂

Tioraidh, still proudly wearing that badge and still (trying to) keep(ing) it simple,

Iaint850 and ‘coherent’ is a good word. I was. He wasn’t.

So let’s talk lifeboats. As some of you may remember I did explain that the RNLI has been a major recipient of some charitable donations following my sister’s passing away. But I have another lifeboat memory.

17th March, 1969, the Longhope lifeboat (from the island of Hoy in Orkney) went out on another call but never came back – with the loss of a crew of eight – a major loss of life in the village.

Approximately twelve years later, I was a researcher with a film crew doing a BBC doc on Hoy for Religious Broadcasting. It was about a guy called Harry Berry, an Englishman who had settled on Hoy, (it was called The Old Man of Hoy – and why not?) and we decided to do some filming about the lifeboat. And me and the assistant film cameraman were given a task. (Yes. Assistant Film Cameraman – I am that old. 😉 )

When the lifeboat, in those days, was launched it was necessary for a man with a big hammer to hit a metal pin that secured a chain that held the boat and the boat was launched. With nobody caring where the chain ended up. And that was where the director placed Paul and me – right behind the boat. I was to pull focus while he pointed the camera.

‘I wouldn’t sit there, lads’ said an experienced Orcadian.

‘We’ll be fine,’ came the voices of inexperience.

OMG!!!!!!! The chain sped across in front of us and the end bit hit us and covered us in oil.

‘Well lads,I did tell you,’ came the voice of experience……..but boy was it worth it when the shot was used.

As someone originally from the fishing town of Peterhead my thoughts are with the people of Longhope.

Here’s the lovely voice of Jade Halliwell and Storm Chaser

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. (Albert Camus)

March 7, 2019

And so, dear listener, it is, as I’m sure you know, one year since the ‘Beast from the East’ hit us and I, like many, felt marooned in my wee semi but many others, including social care workers, who travel amongst us invisibly, as, in general, they have no uniform to wear, made it in to work with the homeless and in hospitals and to try to keep the roads and rails running.

So this year, I planned for it. 😉

Shovels, and salt, and de-icer, and brushes were installed in my porch and I bought in flour to make bread and there’s lots of stuff in tins and tea and coffee (altho’ much of that has been liberated from my sister’s kitchens) and I was good to go. 🙂

And then we had a lovely last couple of weeks in February and I was fooled and much of it was put back in the shed or at the back of the larder and I relaxed and then I switched on TV News and there was Louise Lear (or similar) talking of snow in the hills and sleet at lower levels.

How prophetic she was, but lighter nights and mornings make it easier to get on with things anyway. 😀

And that’s what I’m doing. In several of the last thirteen years, it’s what March has been all about.

We continue to sort out my sister’s estate and her two properties are about ready to be put on the market and that’s been quite an experience.

Big thanks to Son Brian and his dad-in-law, John, and good friend e who have put clothes in bags (for a Maryhill Clothes Bank who will collect them) and rubbish in other bags (which have gone to respective tips) while I have wandered around going, ‘Gosh. Will you look at that photo.’ or ‘No. I already have enough bleach. Are you sure you don’t want some?’ But we’ve made good progress and I think it’s been good to keep going the way we have done. Well, for me anyway. 🙂

Let’s move on. Certainly, within the context of this show, let’s move on.

So this week’s TV Comedy of the Month this year goes to Derry Girls which has returned to Channel 4 and is on a Tuesday at 9.15 pm. It’s a superb piece of writing which does not rely on set up gags and a sofa (altho’ Two Doors Down is good) but simply the word interplay between the girls (and the boy) at the all girls’ catholic school and the interplay with the boys from a protestant school at a Peace Weekend at an outdoor adventure centre. 🙂

You’ve got to be quick to spot the purity bracelet and the chat between the nun (‘the small angry penguin woman’) and the proddy teacher (Miss Turner) is brilliant and unlike some period pieces there are no (too) obvious props to date it – simply the music of the Undertones and the Cranberrries.

And finally, I was out at UWS (Paisley) this week (No. That wasn’t the reason) and my eyes were caught by attempts to improve the sad High Street. There’s something called the Renfrewshire Witch Experience which looks like it might be one of those ghostly trails that seem so popular and a shop called the White Cart Co which had a lot of Glasgow prints but I saw, and bought, a photo collage of wee pics of Paisley. I like it and it’s up in my front room (the back room being the kitchen) alongside a print of Peterhead and a framed photo of the Finnieston Crane (a sister of the Titan)

That’s my life on that wall. 😀 😀 😀

Tioraidh, still wearing those badges and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, who can see light at the end of the tunnel and for once it’s not an oncoming train (or have I said that before?)

And so, as part of my role with the SDF I’m going to be doing some writing and reporting on a conference they’re organising called ‘Bridging that Gap – Delivering Scotland’s Drug and Mental Health Strategies’.

It’s an area of interest to me.

A wee while back I was asked about someone with depression who was drinking and what should be ‘treated’ first – the depression or the drinking – and I gave my opinion but I stressed that that was what it was. An opinion. I could not back it up ‘off the top of my head’ with any evidence.

And that’s what has annoyed me about the knife crime debate this week. The argument has been about the cause and effect between crime numbers and the numbers of police but little evidence has been offered by politicians.

I know that, despite the good news that violent crime has decreased in the West of Scotland in recent years, that many young men and women carry knives for protection. If they believe that another person might be carrying (it could be buying drugs, an argument over territory or a pint being knocked out of someone’s hands) then no amount of prison sentences or extra police numbers will stop them.

What the Violence Reduction Unit achieved in Glasgow was to make violent crime a public health matter and to look at a number of possible causes and what could be done to alleviate them – from Midnight football leagues to social enterprise and to provide evidence as to what actually worked…..but politicians and golf club sociologists hate that.

And for what it matters, I think if you stop or cut back on drinking then a clear mind does wonders when I comes to dealing with depression or anxiety…….but I don’t have the evidence to hand. Only my own experience.

I’ll tell you more about the conference next week.

This is Keith Urban with a simple country love song. No. No-one in particular…….

Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after. (Anne Morrow Lindbergh)

March 1, 2019

And so, dear listener, having confessed last week to the odd run in with the police when I was very young – altho’ to be honest it was the run home rather than the run that caused the problem – I have to admit feeling more of a ‘ned’ last week. 😦

It had a very simple beginning. The blogmeister and I had arranged a wee coffee and chat and we had it in Tinderbox in Byres Road. I like sitting at the window and I still like Byres Road life. There is a sense of old Glasgow as twilight settles in and there’s a mix of folk going home and others going out. 🙂

And then I did that thing you do when you think you’ve had enough coffee. I asked for a bottle of water. Y’know the idea. You get a bottle of water, drink half of it out of the plastic bottle and screw the top back on and finish the rest off later.

Except on Tinderbox, you get a glass bottle.

I drank half, said my goodbyes to the blogmeister and wandered up the road – with the glass bottle sticking out of my pocket. All I needed was a fish supper and I was a Billy Connolly stereotype.

Neil Lennon and his wee boy walked past me. Neil seemed happy. 😀 This was Monday evening.

And I began to panic. And I don’t know why. I turned left into Horslethill Road and I felt easier. Seconds later I reached the car and I felt okay. I threw the bottle onto the passenger seat and relaxed. I wasn’t being followed; I didn’t need it to defend myself. Maybe it’s that moment when the twilight becomes The Dark.

But the going for coffee is a sign of getting back out again. Mentally and physically I feel tired but I’m also back doing stuff with the Scottish Drugs Forum and there are busy times ahead…..

But there was also a spooky wee feel to last week. A few weeks ago my mobile took a tumble and I took it to a place in Partick and it got fixed okay. A few days ago it fell again but even after a couple of visits to Partick, it wasn’t happy. So, with help of Son Brian, a new improved one had been ordered but what to do in the meantime.

Well, I still have my sister’s devices and they all seem powered up so I thought I can always use my sister’s phone. In an emergency. Boy, had I not thought it through.

I sent myself a text to my erratic phone. It worked but it came up in her name! Can you imagine had I sent one to someone else without warning them first. And that thing where you can send a text to a landline and it gets read out! But no, it’s a robot voice…….so no, maybe not a good idea.

Time to buy a new one. Which I did with the help of Son Brian. Who is playing a big role as an advisor at the moment and I know what you’re going to ask. It’s a Samsung and it’s black with a lot more storage than before. No. I don’t know the make but I do know it’s delivery was undertaken by Yodel and their website kept me informed enough to allow me to nip out for a haircut and, yes, it is getting shorter. My hair. 😉

But, Yodel, bloody Yodel….what a badly named organisation. The driver couldn’t even find my front door bell which is on my front door. His arrival was in total silence. He didn’t shout, let alone yodel. Regular and expected visitors (I can explain Skippy) chap on the window and walk in. The door’s open unless it’s locked. But, luckily, Mr Yodel, I happened to be in and downstairs and saw you……

So it’s all out of the box and my son is in charge of sorting out as well as the radio as we begin to clear and tidy my sisters’s house overlooking the Clyde. 🙂

And finally, this week’s Book of the Month this year is A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and it’s about a man called Ove who considers suicide after his wife passes on and there are bits where I snorted with laughter. And a brilliant pregnant lady called Parvaneh who, eventually, doesn’t even chap on the window before she walks in……it is, despite the subject matter, a book that helps you smile and that’s been good for me this week 😀

Tioraidh, still keeping it simple and still wearing that badge (but writing it in a different order may help)

Iaint850, who wasn’t really completely fine when he said he was but he is now.

I can explain (and I’ve kinda alluded to it earlier)

Like lots of folk, after a tricky few months, I had tired – physically and mentally. It wasn’t unique to me but I’m not sure I’ve really drawn breath but that is beginning to happen. Lots to do in terms of settling the estate and stuff but some of the conversations I’ve had with folk this week have reassured me that other folk, in similar situations, have had to take their time in settling things.

I think I mentioned last week that, at one stage, I had been more concerned about the practicalities of the future, rather than dealing with the here and now-ish. It’s not quite ‘one day at a time’ stuff but delighted to say lots happening with the Scottish Drugs Forum, I seem to have tickets for five Aye Write events (what are you going to and will I see you there?) and my grandson’s second birthday coffee and cakes isn’t that far away……..and I am catching up with folks and my range of conversation is getting wider and wider….…as I was saying to Holly the Dog only the other day……when I was telling her about Mr Ove.

I feel nicely quiet as I write this.

And for no real reason here’s forty-seven minutes of Burt Bacharach in Edmonton, Canada in 1977