Archive for January, 2020

‘A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they will never sit’ … an old Greek proverb quoted by Seamus Mallon (RIP)

January 31, 2020

And so, dear listener, Brexit has been and got done and none of the claims on the side of the bus were true. But that’s Boris Johnson for you. Liam Fox did not do forty trade deals and Liz Truss does not inspire confidence. And the Home Secretary wants to separate immigrants into different types, ignoring the fact that Scotland’s basic needs are not for top class scientists but for hospitality and agricultural workers. But we can have a blue passport, a tea towel and a fifty pence piece without the Oxford Comma.

Oh, and the voices, many from south of the border, who had no idea how they would benefit from Brexit but it was good to be ‘independent again’. 😦

We move on. Without any clue where we’re going. 😦

So I met up during the week with a friend, Colin, who I had not seen for a long time and we had a very pleasant lunch in the Shish Mahal in Park Road and I’m pleased to say that they were only lunch size plates and very tasty. Two memories came back.

One was with Colin and our respective wives (a long time ago!) and we were spending a few days in a small village in Kintyre. We had access to a small boat and Colin and I went to pull it in. Except. It pulled me in. My wellies had no grip and I slipped, on my back, gently and inexorably, into the water. Think the QE2 coming off the slips into the River Clyde. So slowly was it that my life did not flash in front of my eyes but, instead, it was a graceful and slow review of my life up to that point. I even smiled. 🙂

A couple of nights later, Colin and I were out on a fishing boat overnight (pair trawlers) and I overhead one skipper say to his mate on the other boat;

‘You’ll never guess who’s on the boat tonight. Aye, that fella from Glasgow who fell in the water. Aye, I’m keeping a bloody close eye on him!’

And I’m told by Colin, who still goes down to Carradale from time to time, that I am still asked after.

The other memory came from the fact that I had parked my car at the back of the Botanic Gardens (just up from the Ha’penny Bridge) and walked along the banks of the Kelvin, a walk that Holly the Dog and I (and good friend e) have done many a time and it fits into my new health regime and all done with a smile. 😀

I walked back, kidding myself that I was walking off the curry.

I used to do this in my drinking days (but maybe not towards the end). Maybe it was a nice Friday night in the Spring so I’d take a wee walk down to the Maryhill Road, planning to nip into a hostelry, have a couple of pints and wander back up the road. 🙂

Now, such is the camaraderie that alcohol engenders, was there ever a time that I met up with people I did not know, got a wee cargo together and did all my good intentions then go west? Maybe, dear listener, maybe.

And finally, dear listener, I’d like to thank my chums on Facebook for helping me spend the first few pounds of my sister’s inheritance. I asked for advice. I posed a question. I said, ‘Dyson or Shark?’ and I got opinions. The majority said Shark.

Now, I was full of good intentions. I planned to drive to Curry’s and kinda road test the vacuum cleaners. I’d even looked out some vintage Shake’n’Vac for the occasion. But I looked out the window and it was raining.

I switched on the laptop and, yes, selected the rainforestriverbuying option and clicked, and clicked, and clicked. And two days later £169 was deducted from my bank account and I was clicking the liftaway pod into position.

And next, maybe a new camera, but I’ll take advice from Son Brian on that one.

Tioraidh, still wearing the badges and I’m still happy to keep smiling and to keep it simple.

Iaint850, So I tried out my new corded Shark vacuum cleaner this weekend and found £2.12 under the twp settees. 🙂

And I was interested to read that the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer has increased – ‘diagnosed’ with cancer, not ‘getting’ cancer. It means more men are coming forward but I was interested to read people like Prostate Cancer UK and Prof Karl Sikora ascribing it to the likes of Stephen Fry and Bill Turnbull who have spoken openly about their experiences.

I, however, would pay tribute to the ordinary men (and widows of other men) who do information talks and stands and who also share experiences but often do so in a one-one manner which can have such a major effect.

It’s a long time since I’ve done these (I did a lot of broadcasting about cancer) but I do have memories of ‘manning’ stands and seeing men walk past but their wives coming over to ask questions; or doing a talk somewhere and there was always someone hanging round for ‘a quick word’.

I then went on to study drink’n’drugs and I also hope that, there, I’ve helped people by sharing experiences. It’s not the easiest of things to do. But somebody I don’t know, this week, learned that I was thirteen years ‘sober’ and congratulated me. He then told me he was coming up for fourteen years sober this May. From a distance we metaphorically hugged. That was a good ‘share’.

And here’s The Jesus and Mary Chain. Again. They sure ain’t no Chamber Music outfit, are they?

‘Just noticing patterns we slip into is half the battle. If you are lucky, the rest comes naturally.’ (Darren Loki McGarvey)

January 24, 2020

And so, dear listener, I have lived in the city of Glasgow for over forty years and still find it a fascinating place. 🙂

I don’t get around it as much as I used to but that’s partly because I don’t have that much need so to do. Indeed I’m sure I’ve explained how rarely now I travel to the south side – although I do distinguish between that and ‘through the tunnel’ and some of the travelling these days is done by train as I have that time to myself. 🙂

However, I had a fascinating view of one aspect of Glasgow just the other night – the surprise and joy you can get from staring into a basement flat. Let me explain.

I was meeting the blogmeister in a coffee shop in Byres Road on Monday evening and I was early (‘Now there’s a surprise’ says Skippy) so I parked at Kelvinside Academy and started to walk – through places like Horselethill and Dowanhill and then down a back road to Dumbarton Road and back up Byres Road. Even in that short trip you see the attraction of Glasgow and the tenements but it’s an area where you can see into massive basement rooms in massive basement flats…..curtains and blinds are not always drawn but it was on the way back that I saw something that rang a bell with the wordsmith in me – if I may describe myself as that. 😉

(but first, a very pleasant couple of cups of coffee with the blogmeister and the world was put to rights)

On the way back to my car I looked into one basement and was really intrigued by what I saw. Seated at a large wooden table was a man with long fairish hair and he was reading – not a book but a large manuscript wrapped in some form of book binding which wasn’t normal book binding and not only that he was surrounded, not by bookcases, but by shelves full of more manuscripts wrapped in the same binding.

I stared; trying to work what he was – a warlock, maybe? Somebody with a house full of potions and pills and the recipes for them? And it wouldn’t be the first time that I’d been in a flat like that in Glasgow’s west end. 😉

And he looked up. And he stared. And glared and I made an excuse and left……..embarrassed. (Huntly Gardens if you’re ever in that area)

And I was actually in an old building in Glasgow city centre the other day with something that not only took me back but took me up when I had to go and see my son (professionally – and his profession, not mine)

His firm’s office is on the sixth floor and there was a lift but it was one of those lifts which is actually a cage where you have to open and close the gates before it travels and not only that but the commissionaire did that for me on the way up and came with me…..just to be sure.

Glasgow – a city of surprises. 😀

And finally, if I may, some criticism of Meghan Wales (gulp!)

There was a photograph of her walking through a park with two burly security men behind her (that somebody’s paying for). She was carrying a baby (stunt double?) in a chest papoose which she was steadying with her right hand; her left was holding on to the leads of two very strong looking dogs. Did this worry anyone else? I know that sometimes, when walking my friend, Holly the Dog, I sometimes am pulled away when she sees something she wants to go and investigate.

It’s enough concentrating on one dog with one lead and two hands.

What a shame Meghan doesn’t live near a gran-in-law who knows about dogs.

Tioraidh, still wearing the badges and still keeping it simple (and ever optimistic)

Iaint850, choosing to eat ethically, economically and environmentally friendly.

And so, a wee word about my sister, one year to the day since she passed away. I posted on facebook that I had started to spend the inheritance by buying a Shark corded vacuum cleaner – slightly tongue in cheek but a sign that I felt (with others) that it was a good time to move on.

With the exception of the legal hiccup which saw me having to change solicitor (and I see no need to go back over that story but I found new dead good people in Paisley), every aspect of it has gone well – from the funeral and cremation to the will settlement and all the other things that pop up in a situation like that.

Legally and financially, there’s some things to be tidied up and I still have things to sign but it’s more or less over and we move on. Sheila will not be forgotten but I’m not the sort of person to mark the fact that members of my family have moved on, on an annual basis.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t miss her. Sometimes there are times when I (will) miss picking up the phone just to tell her something………

For example, I have bought tickets for myself and good friend e to go see The Jesus and Mary Chain at the Kelvingrove Bandstand later this year and I’d have been interested in her reaction to that – if I could catch her when she wasn’t at Celtic Connections.

So here are The Jesus and Mary Chain with Happy When It Rains….except we won’t be if it does.

Dyson or Shark or Gtech or Harry? It’s a question I’ve been asking a lot lately. Any thoughts? (me)

January 16, 2020

And so, dear listener, some days it feels like Christmas and it was one of those days earlier this week when I got all my repeat prescriptions in one go. There’s nothing too urgent in that I take pills each day to take care of things such as high blood pressure and reflux and to keep my heart pumping – and they seem to work. 🙂

I tend to go to the chemist for when they open, hand the scripts over, nip in to the ASDA and come back and collect them. Being first thing in the morning, there’s usually someone in getting their methadone and I’m on nodding terms with some of them – but I had to smile when I left the other morning.

My drugs were in one of those cheap, blue plastic bags that I used to get from off sales and that I described in my Master’s or similar as the blue bag of stigma. If it ain’t half a dozen cans of Special Brew, then it’s a huge pile of pills. But boy do you get some looks and you do feel a bit of a stereotype. 😦

And so, dear listener, that leads to just a quick wee word about Meghan and Harry, and I may need to ask their advice soon time – wearing their environmental hats.

But, first maybe racism has had a part to play in what has happened but I’ll wait until M & H tell us rather than ‘friends’ speaking on their behalf in People magazine, but I do remember a heap of vox pops with some very disappointed women in Windsor High Street who couldn’t understand why M & H were not letting the world see the new wean and, as I am a connoisseur of documentaries about the Royals I feel I should mention that Frogmore Cottage is actually four or five flats knocked into one big house. Ffs, it’s even bigger than the Barratt’s Premier houses around the corner in the cul-de-sac.

Now, this is important and relevant.

Apparently, saying that Meghan was brought up near Compton (or something) was akin to something racist cos of the gangs from there. Now I had never heard of it before this week but I wonder if M & H have ever heard of Summerston – or Scummy Summy as it used to be called by the Young Team from Acre Road in the scheme/estate’s early days. It has improved since then but there are plans apparently for 500 – 1,000 new houses to be built over the Blackhill Road side by the Balmore Road on the way to Possil Loch which is an SSSI and just up the road from Lambhill Stables. 😦

I did try the Glasgow City Council link supplied by the Community Council to look up the details but it didn’t work – where’s a good conspiracy theorist when you need one?

It wouldn’t cost too many carbon miles for them to come up.

A Megabus to Buchanan Street Bus Station and then an off peak return from Queen Street to Summerston and I’d meet them.

A quick coffee in the ASDA and then I’d give them a lift to the site………but I’ll maybe not trouble them just yet. I still can’t get through and I may need a planning application to go through the council soon time myself.

I’ll keep you posted.

And finally, this time two years ago I was admitted to the Royal Infirmary here in Glasgow with a heart condition; one year ago (this Wednesday) my sister, Sheila, passed away in the Beatson; so it was with a great deal of trepidation that I received the letter from the Bowel Cancer Scanning people with the news…..that I remain clear. This year is defo the year of smiling……. 😀 😀 😀

Tioraidh, still wearing the badges, still keeping it simple and still smiling.

Iaint850, who’d hate to be called an absolute unit like that highland cow was.

Now I can’t have been the only one who smiled when I heard the Prime Minister et al crying out for a good bong on the night which signals that we are about to leave the European Union.

Y’see in the drugs world a bong is a is a ‘filtration device generally used for smoking cannabis, tobacco, or other herbal* substances. In construction and function a bong is similar to a hookah, except smaller and especially more portable.’

*herbal 😊

At one time (not that long ago) you saw many of them in shops in Sauchiehall Street or the Saltmarket or so on, which may, possibly, have been a sign that what were once known as illegal substances were for sale. Or not.

And, in one of my many previous existences, it was brought to my attention that it was possible to build a do-it-yourself bong (or ‘bucket’) with little more than a basin and an empty two litre plastic bottle of ginger. So, where estimated costs of £500,000 came from I do not know…… Unfortunately I no longer know a man who might do it for less.

So I was chatting to a couple of folk about going out on my own and explaining that whilst I’m happy to go things like Aye Write on my own (but I am open to offers and the new brochure has just come out) I’m not so keen on going on my own to music gigs but I am always open to offers as a Plus One if required.

However, one guy I did go to see, on my own, was the late Leon Russell, although he wasn’t ‘late’ at the time. Here’s a Song For You….and you know who you are 🙂

but are you the Delta Lady? :}

 

‘It’s not enough to just survive something, right? That’s not the point of life. You’ve got to thrive, you’ve got to feel happy.’ (Duchess of Sussex)

January 10, 2020

And so, dear listener, I had actually taken a note of those words from the Duchess of Sussex (or Meg as we call her down the Elephant (and Bugle) down the Maryhill Road – a boozer with strong connections with the Highland Light Infantry whose barracks were where the Wyndford flats now are) long before she chose to announce her decision to move on and become independent and earn her own living ……..and Harry……Harry knew about it as well. He was consulted. He’s doing it as well.

It’s interesting. tho’, isn’t it?

Y’see in the same way I confessed last week to reading the Daily Mail from time to time cos I get bored with reading things that I agree with, I have another peccadillo (sp?) to ‘fess up to. 😉

I am fascinated by stories about the Royals.

I mean, I’m not one of those people who still has a Charles’n’Di mug or wants to be on the streets of Windsor when there’s a wedding or cries when one child or another starts school.

I love the behind-the-scenes TV docs on Channel 4 or 5. 🙂

It can be a look back at Mrs Wallis Simpson and her love affair with Thingy (I can never remember the men’s names) or why the current Queen loves Balmoral or, and this was the most recent, a look at how they prepare for a banquet at Windsor which I saw a few days ago.

They get through one helluva lot of bevvy if the number of glasses at each setting is anything to go by and do you know they even have two men with a big stick so that they make sure that every seat is exactly the same distance from the table?

It’s stuff like that that fascinates me and they, even the servants, seem to live in some kind of existence that is totally cocooned from life as you and I know it and I’m never sure quite what to make of that except to wonder why the Queen Mum was allowed to build up such a massive overdraft at Coutts and I have heard some good stories about her and some others which have made it onto these programmes but the Royals have good lawyers (as do I but they’re maybe not that experienced in these matters) so I won’t say too much openly.

See me in the Elephant (and Bugle) and I’ll tell you but I trust the former SAS officer who told me about what happened on the old Royal Train when it was parked overnight in Central Station a few years ago.

And none of the above should be taken as approval of the Family or certain members of it, especially Andrew…..except, maybe, Anne……..

And if we’re talking about people for whom we have respect, can I just highlight Son Brian who, as well as helping me so much over the last year or so, found time to undertake some kind of challenge which saw him running a distance of 5k on a daily basis for the month of December.

I don’t think it was ever seen as a fundraising exercise but funds were raised and I know a reasonable donation was made to Prostate Cancer UK. No. No reason. 😀

And finally, the ‘proof reading’ is back up and running. The reason for the quote marks is because I don’t actually read proofs; I, and business partner, my good friend e, copy edit. But I, cos I’m the main man, am getting a wee bit unhappy. In fact, it’s a wee bit of a dilemma. What is acceptable short notice?

So, what I’ve started to do is to give students deadlines so I get work in in in plenty of time and it is realistically do-able but I did say no to someone who sent me stuff late Thursday night (so I didn’t see it until Friday morning) and wanted it back by two o’clock on Sunday afternoon. I turned that one down. I felt bad. 😦

And then I think about trying to book my car into a busy garage for its MOT, or me to a busy dentist (not ‘til 3rd Feb cos I want early morning), and then I don’t feel so bad. 🙂

Tioraidh (and I’m considering duolingo), still wearing the badges and still keeping it simple but with a smile.

Iaint850, and don’t worry. I think that’s enough personal outing for one year.

So I’ve spoken a wee bit recently about some of the debate currently raging within the world of addiction (or dependency) and abstinence (or harm-reduction) and how do you recover – if ever.

I’m not going to say too much tonight, and there is a danger it might become too academic and this blog was never meant to be that, was it, Skippy?

But there’s a number of politicians making lots of statements at the moment and they’re coming in for lots of criticism for doing so but not everyone who talks the talk will have walked the walk. Do you always need that lived experience in order to make good suggestions or is it possible to bring everyone together? My addiction worker did not have lived experience but had the skills and expertise to help me considerably – motivational interviewing – and it worked.

It used to be said that there are many roads to recovery and one of them will be the right one for you……….

So, as you know, Ted Danson (and it’s not his birthday) is married to Mary Steenburgen who wrote Glasgow which was sung by Jessie Buckley in the film, Wild Rose

Okay. So someone has asked. 2020? I plan to go back to smiling a lot (me, 31st December 2019)

January 3, 2020

And so, dear listener, that is indeed my revolution for the new year and I did broadcast it to the world on Hogmanay. ‘Revolution’ was used by one of Thomas the Tank Engine’s friends (Gordon?) and indeed, for some strange reason, Thomas was discussed by grandparents in a get together just before Christmas. Grandchildren looked on bemused and said things like, ‘Grandpa iaint850. Play’ and I did. 😀

The revolution is nice and simple and doesn’t involve going to the gym (altho’ I’m beginning to walk round the graveyard again) or watching too much what I’m eating and drinking (a sensible range and orange juice) or, well anything like that. It is, in fact, going back to the proper meaning of Keeping it Simple and looking for the smile first – just like I used to. 😀 😀 😀

Now it could take various forms. A New Year’s Day call from grandchildren helped and I don’t mean just before midnight and I don’t think they pressed the numbers but you know what I mean.

And here’s another example. Yes, eventually, I will come into enough money to enable me to consider an extension to my semi* but one of the nicest things over the Christmas period was getting book gift tokens – or whatever they’re called these days – and having the ability to go into a bookshop (guess!) and spend what is basically surprise money on something that gives me a fair amount of pleasure. 🙂

*and everyone tells me to make sure I get a downstairs toilet………why?

And it’s that time of year again, isn’t it? That marvellous moment when you take something out of the freezer which has no label on it, allowing it to defrost and find something that you’re happy to eat. So far, so good. 😉

And 2020, is this the year when Mad Dog comes of age?

And my car passed its MoT without any problem and I actually own it later this year.

I even smiled at short notice editing this weekend altho’ it did mean I couldn’t take up a short notice invitation……at short notice. 😦

And a big well done to Greta Thunberg for going along with the Sharon gag………that put a smile on my face……..and the vegans I know and meet for lunch also smile a lot, care about both people and animals, and are part of the real world.

And finally, maybe this is the year when I should improve my handwriting. I woke up to a note from myself that seemed to say ‘didn’t’. Some of the notes I left to myself during my drinking days made much less sense than this but ‘didn’t’ seemed to be a denial. What didn’t I do?

Had I become some kind of Jekyll and Hyde character – or a justified sinner? I worried. 😦

Until later in the day it hit me. It said ‘dentist’. I lost two fillings over the holiday period. I blame myself for keeping Wine Gums in the fridge so that they become harder. 😦

So first thing on Monday, I will make a phone call to the dentist; after all, there’s no point in smiling if your teeth ain’t good.

Tioraidh, keeping it simple and still wearing the badges

Iaint850, grizzly as heck (Skippy, have I got that right?)

But smiling a lot doesn’t mean I’ll stop talking about the serious stuff as well……..and highlighting idiots as well. For example, Tory MSP Brian Whittle who, in an article in the Scottish Daily Mail which I read from time to time because I don’t understand the need to read newspapers or websites where you agree with everything without questioning it, was talking about ‘alcohol addiction’ and used a lot of stereotypical terms which showed a complete lack of empathy and understanding.

He attended an ‘addiction meeting’ in Kilmarnock organised by Addaction – a smashing organisation – which was attended by ‘what are euphemistically called ‘service users’ – alcoholics to the rest of us’* and it’s when I read something like that that I worry.

*service users are people who use a service – no euphemism at all.

Yes. There is a well-known self-help group which does use the word ‘alcoholics’ but that does take us down a road where people are deemed to have a problem for life. I don’t but I do understand the problems other have. Let’s look at why people use alcohol and offer an alternative.

He says that ‘only three elements are required for a healthy lifestyle; a good diet, being physically active and easy access to a support network like a club with instructors, facilities and information.’ Mens sana in mens corpore as the Prime Minister might say.

To which I can only say, food banks, poverty caused by Tory austerity and a need for more support workers – Monica Lennon for First Minister!

And in fairness (?) to the Scottish Daily Mail the next day they published a well researched article on the same subject By Prof. David Nutt; Whittle admitted he’d used ‘anecdotal evidence’ for some of his.

So, let’s go back to smiling!!!!!

I saw this on TV and it made me smile