Archive for November, 2019

‘You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.’

November 23, 2019

And so, dear listener, I’m not sure if that opening line does come from the Labour Party Manifesto but I’ve not had time to look for another quote and I wanted something that reflected the feeling of re-birth – of beginning yet again, for myself, with a new life now that we’re close to settlement. I said that to somebody the other day and had some scorn poured over me. 😦

But it’s how I have felt from time to time over the years and I think the best example* was when I went to uny (that’s the abbreviation whereas uni is a prefix) at Paisley in 2011 and it was really good and I met some amazing people. I achieved a Master’s in drink’n’drugs and graduated six years ago on Thursday of last week. I took it into the SDF offices the other day to show someone how I’d laid it out and when I left the office, someone else was actually reading it. That felt good. 😀

*actually that was the second best example – probably waking up in Ward 8A in Gartnavel General thirteen years ago – a couple of days after I’d Cold Turkeyed – is the best. 😀

I mean, what about if I became a dad again. Would that be a new life? A proper fresh start? Because it has been suggested.

Let me explain.

I’ve drawn up a new will. Some addresses had to be changed and I’ve withdrawn some of the detail re the music and other things. I’m going to put all that in a letter and hand that over to Son Brian. Two pieces have been chosen and you’ll need to be there to hear them. The third is the middle section where my coffin is transported into the burning bit. Son Brian can choose that.

So, if you happen to be passing Maryhill Crem and you hear an instrumental from, Tiree band, Skerryvore, then it’s more than likely that I am dead and being disposed of and that’s the track that was chosen by Son Brian.

And ashes disposal? A dummy run has been done (without ashes) but if you think Pooh Sticks, you’ve got it. 😉

Children? Oh, yes. No. It was just my lawyer being careful about the effect future events might have on my inheritance……..or if I got married. I went mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

(And at this point I make the usual point that I am single but am ever hopeful……..hahahahahahahahaha)

Let’s move on. Swiftly.


We’ve reached the stage where it’s about handing over keys and reading meters and waiting for the five days or so to see if the folk buying the properties find anything major that they don’t like BUT these are problems that are legally soluble and I can sleep at night and we might get some  money soon.

However, it is worth making the point that it was exactly one year ago that my sister took up residence in the Beatson – other than one week out – and stayed there, more or less, until she passed away.

And finally, this is too gloomy.

I want to quote a tweet in which I seem to have played a part. It had over 2,400 ‘likes’, many of which were addressed to me cos I made a small comment early on. It came from a high up legal person in the Society of Solicitors in the Supreme Courts of Scotland and you know what these people are like;

‘Today, in Edinburgh, I said to a colleague, ‘Is that a doughnut or a meringue?’ He didn’t know the punchline. How is this even possible?’

Do I have to explain? And at this point I throw in the phrases ‘Ayrshire bacon’ and ‘mince round’ and I move on swiftly. Again. 🙂

And finally, finally, met up with the RRM in the Radisson Red but have yet to make it up to the Sky Bar (and I’m sure they do a mean orange juice there) but I quite like the downstairs bar and I think the views out of that window are pretty damn excellent as well. Indeed, even just walking about that bit of Finnieston brings back memories of a time well gone – when we called it the Broomielaw and not Atlantic Quay. it also brought back memories of my PR days and meetings in Glasgow hotels while I tried to get my client’s POV over to a thirsty journo.

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

Iaint850, and fingers still remain crossed……….just in case.

And let’s briefly talk about the book I’m currently reading. It’s Confessions of a Bookseller, which is the follow up to The Diary of a Bookseller (my copy of which has somehow made its way to Tobermory) and I’ve reached March and there’s an element of Second Album syndrome……….it’s just a wee bit too similar but I’m happy to stick with it.

But I’d like to draw your attention to a comment from 4th March;

‘Most of our customers are retired and don’t like driving in icy conditions, but they don’t seem to be put off by rain.’

That’s me that is, and as long as I’m wearing one of the badges, as Eleanor Oliphant would say, ‘I’m fine.’

I mentioned Skerryvore earlier and given that this has the lovely Sharon Shannon in it (but not enough of her), let’s just say ‘I’m happy to be home.’


‘I believe you claim that you’re comfortable in your own company’ ….’I can spend days on my own and not speak to anyone.’ (Stuart Cosgrove)

November 15, 2019

And so dear listener, I know what Stuart means. I am a bit of a recluse these days but I’m not too bothered by it. I try to get out but sometimes it’s just as easy to close the door behind me; make myself a Tassimo coffee; find my latest book; and put a CD on. 🙂

Given that, once upon a time, for a period of approximately fourteen months, it would be a bottle of whisky and, at the start of an evening, a glass, I think sober reclusivity is not a bad thing.   😀

And much of the last year or so has been taken up, understandably, with my late sister’s passing and I’ve spoken about some of the other challenges to which it has led but I have some documents to sign, a couple of meters to read, and the important Stage One may have been reached.

And when I talk about starting a new life yet again, that’s a pretty positive thing in the language of recovery………

I plan to time it to be based over Christmas ……..leave it with me.

And it will involve lashings of honeycomb cheesecake with ice cream from an Italian restaurant just along the road from the bus station at the back of the Royal Concert Hall where I ate last Sunday……always nice to catch up on events in the homeless project I used to work in over lunch……sorry that should have read ‘catch up over lunch’……(good point Skippy) 😉

I stood for two minutes silence in the Botanic Gardens on the way to Hillhead Underground Station.

And finally, recently I’ve been attending some talks on Old Glasgow but my attendance has been intermittent but they have prompted some memories and Sunday there brought them back. I’d taken the subway in from Hillhead but decided to go back out from Cowcaddens.

(Cowcaddens is one of those underground stations I hate. It’s a thin platform down the middle and I am terrified that if I step out onto that platform then I might lose my balance or be pushed off, so I sit on the stairs until the train comes AND I know I am not alone in thinking this.)

I used to visit Glasgow with my sister and parents when I was very young and I do have vague memories of coming back from seeing relations in the Milton or Springburn and taking the bus to Cowcaddens and walking from there to the hotel we stayed in.

It was cold and grey and pretty worrying but I felt a real man, eh twelve year old, when walking those streets and then one of the most amazing moments in my young life; we bought Sunday newspapers on a Saturday night. 🙂

To someone who, even at an early age, had hopes to be some sort of writer or journalist or story teller, this was an amazing experience.

Glasgow is and was an amazing place. Paisley’s not too bad either. I’ve some legal papers to sign there.

Tioraidh, looking out a badge I might send someone at Christmas but keeping it simple

Iaint850, who may be from Peterhead but I still walk the same streets of Glasgow I walked forty-five years ago.

Otago Street, Gibson Street and Bower Street still have many memories – anyone else rent a flat from Harry the Greek in the seventies? Quaint, weren’t they?…….

And I found myself in a smashing antique shop in Otago Lane just next to the famous Voltaire and Rousseau book shop but, no, I bought nothing. How many original Banksys can one man have?

Although if I do get an extension to my kitchen I may add a space for model yachts

So my task with the SDF this week was to be quite simple; I would be part of a two man team going through to Edinburgh to organise the video conferencing of a forum for workers involved in needle exchanges.

Arrangements were changed at short notice so I ended up observing the conference on a videostream at home…….I learned a lot about video conferencing and needle exchanges and, indeed, using intravenously…….’jagging’ as some might know it.

Many needle exchanges are to be found at your local chemists, especially in parts of Glasgow. They are exactly what they sound like; a place where people, e.g. drug users can bring their old and dirty needles and other paraph, parapher, gear and exchange them for clean gear thus, hopefully, removing many of the dangers of using affected needles and so on.

Citric acid but not lemon juice………

This doesn’t involve any drugs themselves so it’s totally legal but it also brings, depending on the exchange, the user into the gambit of addiction workers and health professionals who might be able to help them with other health and lifestyle issues and help to save lives.

So that’s basically a good thing, isn’t it? It’s good harm reduction and should be welcomed, shouldn’t it?

Someone once showed me how to find a vein in my groin but I think that’s enough for one day. Next week, we’ll discuss how, not that long ago it was perfectly legal for a doctor to prescribe heroin  …….


I was about 16 when I first saw bands but they tended to be at village hall dances a few miles outside Peterhead and often they were just an excuse to get a couple of cans of beer but I did see an early version of the Bay City Rollers in Mintlaw.

I know one young ten year old who’s not long back from seeing Marillion.

This is they.


Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word. – Charles de Gaulle

November 8, 2019

And so, dear listener, I am writing this a few hours after my flu jab which, as yet, has had little or no effect on me. Let’s see how we get on. But first, some really amazing news.

The nurse giving me the jab also took my blood pressure. It’s been going down for some time, mostly as a result of the medication I’ve been taking and do you know what?


It was normal! I should have written it down but it was something like 128 over 64 and that is really good. 😀 😀

She said it was down to my lifestyle (she should have heard what that was like thirteen to fourteen years ago) but it’s now okay. Yes. Some meat has come back into my diet but I’m still careful in what I eat and do believe we need a balanced food agri-economy thing but my local supermarket is restricted in what it sells anyway. (Joanna Blythman can explain it)

And I walk. Often in the company of Holly the Dog (and her grown-up aka my good friend e) and so, this week, we ended up in Bodach’s (need to check the apostrophe) which is a converted toilet at the edge of Kelvingrove Park at the Kelvinbridge end as opposed to An Clachan which is a converted toilet at the Charing Cross end.

Oh, and it does sell coffee. And cakes. 🙂

It was really nice but, from inside where we were served by an American who described himself as a dog whisperer, the white walls outside looked as if they were snow covered but it all seemed really festive and the wee chocolate cakes were nice. I’m not a great fan of ‘snow-covered’ and despite my excitement about last week being possibly the last time I’d visit my late sister’s house I may have one more visit to make. Let’s hope the weather holds… 😦

But last week was also Guy Fawkes festivities week. Now I have been at GF celebrations at people’s houses where nervous dogs and nervous individuals stayed indoors and I see and hear tales of frightened dogs on social media and from my neighbours but I was looking after Holly the other night (there was a ten year old male somewhere in the house but he’s a big fan of Minecraft) and I was cuddling a very frightened and shaking dog who wouldn’t even leave the house for a pee.

At my time of life, there is little that I have left to change my mind about but I am not so sure now about the private sale of fireworks and this is before I consider the attacks on firefighters as they attempt to put out fires that are out of control.

And finally, I mentioned last week my ‘world scoop’ from a General Election count. I think it was 1997 and it was Greenock Town Hall. In those days there were many seats in Scotland where the Labour candidate was a shoo-in and there was no need for a full outside broadcast crew where one man and a mobile phone could do it all. Phone in the number of votes cast, the percentage, the final result (maybe a re-count) and get the lucky candidate on the end of the phone and head up the road knowing you were £200 richer. 😉

Except, on this occasion, after the votes had arrived and were being split under strict security controls, there was a power cut. And everything had to stop. An emergency generator kicked in and I phoned the mothership (not the parentship) in Glasgow. And five minutes later I saw a TV in the corner and there was Kirsty Wark telling the world about the power cut. 😦 or 🙂

My story! Me! And so it went on. I never left the Returning Officer’s side. I kept phoning it in and Kirsty kept saying it…..’More new just in from Greenock…….’ But he imposed a cut-off time. After which the count would be postponed. And Kirsty repeated that to the world. And then I realised that if the light didn’t come back on, then we’d be back the next day and there might be no repeat fee.

Eventually the lights did come back on and eventually we did get home but I still had to go in and do my normal shift after about two hours sleep and a large whisky.

This time round I’ll go to bed at eleven and get the results the next day.

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

Iaint850 who now identifies as self-partnered…..

Now I was going to use this bit to have a rant at all those actors and actresses (deliberate use of the female plural) who seem to be unhappy at some of the things they have to say in their dayjob of pretending to be other people and forgetting that until 1968 the British theatre was subject to censorship by the Lord Chamberlain in a way that if it was imposed these days they would be the first to complain in their makey-uppy world.

But then maybe I’m wrong and His Dark Materials is reality TV so I won’t.

So I’ve still not worked out how to get the music video onto the screen and I suspect that means me going back to my old computer and work out what I did there so I make no apology for going back to one of your and mine favourite pieces of all time to see if I can get it to work knowing it has in the past. Wish me luck. Looking good. Fingers crossed. Apologies if there’s an advert at the start.

Instead of being ashamed of what you’ve been through, be proud of what you have overcome! (Morden Station Information Board)

November 3, 2019

And so dear listener, this will be another short show; or at least, I think it will be. A few times recently I’ve started writing this blog thinking that and then, without trying too hard, I’ve reached the magic 1,000 words, that at one time was my target, without trying too hard.

But for me, and therefore you, there is only one story in town.

I look at my notes, cos that’s what I do as the week progresses, and there are various things that suggest themselves.

For example, I was going to say something about General Elections and my world scoop one year from Greenock Town Hall (seriously); or how fed up I am with politics and politicians.

In addition, I went to one of the Old Glasgow talks I go to on a Monday afternoon and I could now tell you more about that part of Glasgow that good friend e and I visited the other day when we went to see the exhibition of war-related photos by David Pratt in Sogos in the Saltmarket here in Glasgow; or that my duties at SDF now include some archiving of media coverage which gives me a wee identity and having an identity has been a major part of my life in the last (almost) thirteen years or so. 🙂

But my brain finds it very difficult to cope with the change in the clock. I didn’t gain an extra hour’s sleep last week. I already wake far too early for a man who I describe as semi-retired (me). Now it’s far too early plus an hour. And my brain and my body go active very quickly.

Or that I recently lost a wastepaper bin and couldn’t understand why or where, and it turned up in the boot of my car, which is being used a lot as I remove the last of the stuff to be removed from my sister’s Glasgow flat, but I have no idea why.

I do feel I am a long way from the care home but sometimes I do wonder…….

No. This weekend saw Son Brian and I scattering my sister’s ashes. Can I stress that I’m not looking for sympathy when I tell you these things any more than I am when I tell you about the drink and the cancer and the depression…..(mind you in the early days there was possibly a certain sense of catharsis and also in writing the book which never got beyond publishers and agents). 😦

It’s about sharing in a simple manner and just saying that, from my point of view, these things happen and it’s not a bad thing to treat them as pretty straightforward.

Mind you my hand shook when I collected the ashes from Harvey’s, my family’s undertaker, but only when I signed for them.

And the urn? It is basically a cardboard box because we were given the option and asked for an environmentally friendly urn and that’s what we got. And altho’ I’m saying this is all pretty straightforward, I did find myself saying sorry to Sheila when I dropped her but still in her box.

So on Sunday morning we set out. One day I will reveal where her house was but currently I will just say it’s about an hour outside of Glasgow and has a small burn down the side which eventually reaches a larger daud of water from where it becomes part of an even larger piece of water and from there it reaches all parts of the world. It travels much as my sister did – and indeed as she’s now doing as that’s where half of the ashes were scattered.

Nothing much was said or thought. Other tasks had to be undertaken. Photographs were taken of the electricity and gas meters just in case we get that close to closing and we left one set of well hidden keys and I had, what might be, one last look around the house.

If it’s not, it’s cos something has happened and there’s nothing much we can do about that……

We headed back to Glasgow…….to Kelvindale where the River Kelvin runs through the valley and to beside a bridge from where…….well actually we might have been better doing the scattering from the bridge as the bit at the side where we went could have been closer to the river itself.

Still, it’ll rain and then all the ashes will end up in the river where they’ll eventually meet up with the other ashes…….actually, they probably won’t, will they? Maybe we should have done it in a different order?

The deed was done and we headed over to her flat where some more stuff was removed (bigger items) and taken to the Dawsholm Recycling facility (the dump) and there’s just some ornaments to be taken away and that’s both properties ready as we wait for the Sheriff Court to do what needs doing.

Oh, and I have some rugs to be disposed of if anyone wants them…….. 😉

And that’s the stage we’re at almost twelve months since my sister, Sheila, was admitted to the Beatson for cancer treatment….just waiting for a legal judgement and then, hopefully, some straightforward legal stuff with the new lawyer and her folk and I’ll need to check how I am for Christmas cards and stamps.

So my sister’s cremation was at the beginning of February and this was the piece of music to which we left the crematorium.